Updated: Jun 9, 2022
They don't let us poop alone. They wine, they scream, they push all of our buttons. I cannot think of a more rapid way to reach some level of enlightenment than being faced with being a parent. Hear me out. It is not for the faint of heart. Yet, if we succeed, if we let our children force us to truly see ourselves and the false belief that we have any control over this life, we can reach a state of true awakening. No, I don't mean you will float around without a care in the world after letting your children open your mind and heart. What I mean is that anything that pushes us to our limits, that shuts down all of our defenses, can help us see more clearly. Enlightenment is basically seeing life for what is truly is, transient yet eternal, where everything is connected.
Parenting brings out the best and worst in us
Parenting is an alchemical force of nature. Once you become a parent, you are forever a changed person. Each day you are presented with challenges you never imagined you would face. How to keep a child safe while also respecting their autonomy and choice. How to set boundaries without being an A-hole. These are seemingly impossible tasks. Some days you can handle it and other days if feels like you want to jump out of your skin and scream (but you hold yourself back because you worry that if your child sees you screaming and tearing at your hair, they will be traumatized). So you become a volcano with a bunch of unexpressed wild emotions because you are basically doing something impossible and no wonder you snap. Not only do you snap but the very fiber of your being changes, is challenged, is transformed. Parenting can push us to the edge and at the edge, we are given a vantage point to view ourselves, our habits, our impact on the world and we can shift into a higher lever of awareness. It is an invitation, a very loud, messy, aggravating, sleep-depriving invitation.
Our old "self" dies
Who we were before having kids no longer exists. We are now the caretakers of a new being, a being that won't give us a break, a being that expects 100% presence from us. We were not trained for this. We look at this being and we wonder, how can I be the best parent for this little person? What am I doing that is detrimental? What am I doing that is helpful? Am I modeling the life I would wish for this person? We start to question everything. The way we were brought up shaped our world and many of us find loneliness and pain in the world that we were given. We want to create something better. To create something better means we need to BECOME someone better. Our old self must dissolve as we fashion a new self that is worthy of being emulated. How do we create a new self? We first must realize that the "self" is basically all of our life experiences that color our perception. Once we wash off the widows to perception, we learn that the "self" is nothing but a lens and that we are the one who sees.
Once we have realized that we are the perceiver, we have immense power to shape our lives and be a positive influence in the lives of our children. We have control over cleaning the windows to perception, we can upgrade and reinvent ourselves. We can modify our triggers, we can heal our wounds, we can become better people. We are also modeling this understanding to our children. They are taught that they can become whatever they want, that all we are is the one who perceives and we are all connected, we are all one together. The world is teeming with us, this consciousness that is conscious of itself. Our children simply act from the level of conscious development that they are at. When we clean our lens of perception, we are able to see this clearly, take a deep breath and pause to appreciate the temporary moment of consciousness that we are in.
Understanding life for what it is
Our children are our teachers. They teach us that anger lives within us, it can provoked by outside actions but we can pause and respond differently. Our children teach us that we can reinvent ourselves and that our "self" is temporary, constantly changing and that we are simply the ones who perceive. We are life giving birth to life and nurturing life through it's stages of growth. Growth is uncomfortable, children who are growing don't know all of the social norms that we cling onto. When we find ourselves tense, wishing the present moment was different, we can learn from our children, who live only in the presence, that this is the only moment we get. We can fight it or we can simply observe it, be present for it, grow with it. Our children are not the only ones growing up. We are growing up with them and the conflict, the challenge of parenting can clean the windows of perceptions o we can see more clearly and live more fully. Thank you, children.