I was talking to a co-worker today about the fact that one of the BEST things I can do for myself and the world is to be a good (not even great, she said) parent to my kid. That was a little stunning to me. What can I do to be a good parent?
Luckily, the voice of spirit/intuition piped in and said, "You're already a good parent."
But what am I *doing* to be a good parent?
I am staying present. Even when it's hard. And my almost two year old is screaming/commanding me to make his oatmeal warmer or cooler or demanding to stay on the potty for 15+ minutes ("No! No leave! Still peein'!"). I keep looking for moments to get more present. I keep exploring his lack of control and matching it up with mine.
I had a bolt of lightning idea.
What if I saw his screams, hits, demands, commands, and frothing freak outs as moments of cultural and ancestral healing and I let my stuck stuff be awoken and released as he was freely expressing himself?
Stay with me. Here's what I mean:
So as someone who loves control (because of my out of control childhood), I see what my kid is doing. He is riding a big wave of experience. His life is a flowing river. There are eddies, there are rocks that threaten to overturn his boat of experience, there are branches he can catch and there are calm, quiet spots where he can kick back. At any moment, he is participating in that experience of River of Life. I did that too, once, I'm sure of it.
But then I got older and started looking at the river before getting in, and I calculated, observed, and ultimately decided that the river just looked too unpredictable to get in. Ever again. Ack. I forwent the calm, ease-ful parts of the river because I couldn't predict and prepare for the parts I couldn't handle. No thanks! So the flow in my life kinda went away, I guess. I started only wanting to interact with what I could control. That seemed easier.
And years later, I now have this amazing child, repeating this human pattern of riding down the river and I guess my idea is that when he has a freakout, that I can awaken a freakout that I still have (much deeper down), too. It would be scary and weird if I frothed at the mouth because something didn't go my way...but K gets to do that because he's only two. Why not send my freakout down the river with him? It's not his burden, I don't have to utter a word, I can just witness his letting go and his refusals and his demands as the innocence that they are, and reclaim my own.
The beauty is that he doesn't want to get out of the river. He still wants to keep going. After a frothing freakout, he's been known to, seconds later, wrap his arms around me and sweetly request a gorilla ride. Cheeks still tear-stained, his big heart has allowed both a rage-ful upset and a calm, happy desire to hang out in the same five minute moment. What brilliance! What Divine design!
I can't (and won't) promise any zen moments of acceptance at the rage, hitting, frothing, etc. from here on out. But I can see that maybe he's healing a long history of fears and wanting control and regret at getting out of the River of Life too soon.
I don't know exactly, in every moment, how to teach (or if I can teach) K how to deal with life. But I'm cluing into the fact that maybe I don't have to. And maybe he's really teaching me.
I'm dying to get back in that river...it looks like a fun ride.