If you have had a child then you know the indescribable feeling of coming face to face with them for the first time. Like most of you I will never forget the moment I laid eyes on my first born child (and to my 2nd, 3rd and soon to be 4th born the feeling was just as life altering). The emotion is so completely overwhelming. I was immensely happy; completely over the moon. I finally knew what tears of joy were. I also remember looking at my husband with tears of something other than joy in my eyes and confessing, “OMG I just love him so much, I’m so, I’m so…I’m terrified.” Those first moments of utter bliss came with a feeling of vulnerability I had never imagined. They’re letting me go home with this kid? Shouldn’t I take a test? Like even if it’s a multiple choice test. I would feel much better if they would just give me a freaking test…I’ve always been a good test taker. “Nurse? Doctor? Yes thank you I would love another Percocet but after that can you please direct me to the hospital’s testing center?” Did you know there isn’t a test? Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you are. And let me clarify. When I think back to that moment 6 1/2 years ago I wasn’t at all scared of the day to day caretaking things. I had been babysitting since I was 12. By the way now that I have my own children why was I babysitting at 12? I mean I was actually really responsible, but 12? I’d be damned! Anyway, I knew the diaper changing, feeding, getting the baby to sleep, knowing when to call the doctor, figuring out the breastfeeding, etc. etc. would just kind of come naturally to me. There is a lot I am not good at but I’ve always been the “OMG give me that baby” person at the family get-togethers and I felt that I was qualified to care for an infant. I wasn’t scared of dropping him. I wasn’t scared he would pee on me. I wasn’t scared of clothing, bathing, or feeding him. Hell, I don’t even think I was scared of middle of the night feedings (Ignorance is bliss isn’t it? You silly, silly little girl). No the fear was something much deeper. I knew in the depths of my soul that I had been given this perfect little spirit and it was solely up to me (and my husband) to help this child become who he came here to be. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know how to properly provide him with the guidance he needed to follow his soul’s purpose. One little mis-step and obviously he would become a serial killer, right? Ok so maybe that’s slightly dramatic but I was on hormone overload. I sit here 6 1/2 years later and I no longer let the fear I felt in those first moments guide my parenting. Sure with the earth shattering love you feel for your child you are obviously going to have some deep-rooted fears, but I’ve become more and more aware as time has gone on how the parenting journey is something that has unfolded so beautifully and so perfectly just as it was intended.
I’ve been reading books on spirituality for years. Since becoming a parent I’ve continuously thought “I wish someone could tell me how to directly relate these ideas to my parenting.” First and foremost any work you are doing to become more of who you were truly meant to be will be completely beneficial to the little ones in your life, but I was looking for a little more. I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin and I want to fulfill my role as a parent to the best of my ability. Well, I’ve found the book. I have been thinking of ways to introduce the book The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary since I started sharing my ideas via this blog. I can not say enough good things about this book. I saw the author in an interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday and immediately ordered her book. After I read through it I wanted to tell everyone to read it. At the time I wrote up a little status on Facebook encouraging everyone to read it and if you’re friends with me I’m sure I’ve tried to convince you too. I’m really glad I have this outlet to share this book with anyone who is interested. I’m sure I sound super annoying constantly telling people “you should read (insert my latest obsessions here)”, but when I get excited about something I want to share it. I’m a dreamer and an optimist and when something speaks to me and enlightens me I always think, “OMG imagine if everyone felt this way?! How the world could change!!” Molly’s favorite things? Oh and if you don’t trust my judgment, the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword for this book. The Dalai Lama. I’m not sure that there is a higher level of spiritual approval. That would be like Michael Kors telling you to wear something. Or Steven Spielberg telling you to see a movie movie. Or Beyonce telling you how many squats to do. This book can be beneficial for people wanting to become parents, parents to children of all ages, grandparents, caregivers, teachers. If you have an opportunity to influence a child in your life, read this book. And if you have any interest in creating a future that is free of assholes, read this book.
The Conscious Parent covers a range of parenting issues and has the basic message of allowing your complete and full awareness to guide the path of your parenting. Just to give you a brief description here are some of the Chapter Titles; The Spiritual Reason We Birth Our Children, Release Your Children From The Need For Your Approval, Parent From Wholeness Instead Of Your Wounds and Shelve Those Great Expectations…and that’s just to name a few. It also poses an important question throughout the book. What if the entire purpose of having children is for them to teach YOU? For them to show you the way and provide you with those missing pieces in your journey. Obviously we are here as parents to serve our children but what if we better serve them by fulfilling the needs of our own soul along the way. Are you super outgoing and always center stage with a painfully shy child? Maybe you are a stickler for the rules and have a non-conforming “strong willed” little one. Perhaps you were an academic over achiever with a child who struggles with a learning disability. Maybe you take extreme pride in your looks and outer appearance and have a child who likes to wear rain boots with cut off jean shortsand frequently cuts their own bangs. Whatever the circumstance may be, the entire purpose we have our children is to learn and not one of your children came to you by mistake. They were sent to you with a purpose. Their purpose and your purpose. Parenting is a spiritual practice; the good and the bad. Dr. Shefali explains throughout the book how the parenting journey is for our own growth and development which directly contributes to the growth and development of our offspring. The biggest way we do this is by being Conscious. Conscious can be defined in a ton of different ways but to me it means to be in a constant state of awareness. Completely connected to your inner being and the present moment. To be conscious means to operate from your spirit and heart and not your mind or Ego. And since none of us is perfect, to also identify when we are operating on an Ego level. We all know that in general children can be one gigantic blow to our Ego. If you are overly concerned with outward appearances then having a child will ROCK YOUR WORLD. A quote that jumped out at me when I was first reading this book is in a section dedicated to discussing the ways in which our children are their own people and how they arrive here with an unbridled joy and need to live a life unique to their own spirit. They are not ours to own and we need to provide them with the right guidance. Dr. Shefali makes a beautiful point when she says,
“Parenthood affords many occasions in which we find ourselves in a battle between our mind and heart, which makes raising a child akin to walking a tightrope. A single misplaced response can shrivel a child’s spirit, whereas the right comment can encourage them to soar. In each moment, we can choose to make or break, foster or cause to freeze up.”
I always think of my second born when I think about how it can be harmful to break one’s spirit. This child is FULL of life. She is a ray of sunshine. Along with all of those qualities comes her high level of energy and high requirements of attention. When she crawls in bed before the ass crack of dawn with lipstick on her teeth asking me where my mascara is I have two options. Option 1, I approach her from my Ego. The part of me that feels annoyed. The part of me that wants her to understand that I have 3 small children and am currently cooking another one and I need every precious moment of sleep before getting up to be greeted by the mess of my makeup all over the bathroom. That option might sound like, “Where did you get that lipstick? That is SO not your color! You know it’s on your teeth, don’t you? Do you know what time it is? Let me sleep!!!! And hell to the no you can NOT have my mascara.” This option will definitely chip away at her spirit. Maybe she won’t show me in the moment. Maybe she’ll skip away sass and all and find that mascara her damn self (she probably will); but in that moment I am showing her that not only is her uniqueness bothersome to me but that she needs to change. She needs to stop. I am the mother and my sleep is more important than any plan she has concocted at 6:30 am. I am more important than her. My Ego tells me she is MY child and I need to control her. I have just showed her that the one person who is put on this planet to love and guide her and help her “soar” wants her to stop being HER. Option 2? This option is to be conscious. I am present and aware and connected to my child soul to soul. This might sound like, “Don’t you look beautiful! I love the way you wake up every morning so happy and want to start the day doing what you love. Maybe mascara isn’t the best option for a 4 year old but let’s look for some eye shadow.” This option honors her. This option shows her that she is just as important as me. Now of course I also need to teach her about respect and boundaries so I may insert some lessons about asking to use my things before using them and waking me up a little more peacefully, but not before I let her know that living in the moment is what we all came here to do and I just LOVE the way she does that. In that moment I have taught my daughter to be loving and present and connected. But she has taught me as well. She has taught me to think, speak and act from my heart center.
I also use a lot of what I have learned in this book with my oldest child. He is such a sensitive soul who absorbs energy and emotions of those around him. While he is made perfectly just the way he was intended it is my job to foster all aspects of his spirit in a positive way. I can foster this part of who he is and help him to be who he was intended or I can do things which cause him to internalize his sensitivities. I read something interesting in this book that I’ve since made a mental note of. Dr. Shefali describes how important it is to pay close attention to the children in your family who seem the most sensitive. While in a lot of ways this is a very desirable personality trait to have, these children can grow up to display many unwanted behaviors or sometimes be labeled the “problem child”. She describes that this is due to the fact that these little souls absorb all the drama of the family. You can be the most well meaning, loving parents and still unknowingly create a chaotic and/or dramatic environment for your children. Every argument, every ill word spoken of others in front of these children can create disharmony for their little souls. I want to make it clear that people like this aren’t wounded or need fixing, I actually believe that they are really advanced souls who need respect and nurturing so they can continue to evolve into the empathetic, peaceful beings they were sent here to be. I can feed into my son’s fears and sensitivities with my own drama or I can connect with the awareness of my spirit and show him how to be present and conscious when problems arise. How to use his God given divine energy to make this world a better place.
There is SO much more to this book. So much more I want to tell you about. She talks a lot about the ways in which our own wounds from childhood more can impact our parenting. She devotes sections to infants, toddlers and teens and even has a chapter entitled “How To Handle Your Child’s Mistakes.” I hope you get a chance to read it. I know that I will have many more real life experiences that will call on what I have learned in this book. I hope and plan to utilize those tools and I will absolutely share it with you when I do.
The Enlightened Mama