Any parent will tell you that raising a child is a lot. A lot of joy, a lot of laughter, a lot of of work, a lot of frustration, a lot of love...
Raising a spirited toddler has been the most complex thing I have ever done in my life. I have never, ever been more fulfilled, yet I am pushed to the end of my rope on a regular basis. It is so completely exhausting and yet so wonderfully exquisite at the same time. Such a heavy and important task, yet so light and natural.
I have this beautiful, perfect little human who is finding himself and learning so much everyday. Getting into mischief and at times, lashing out. As a parent, negotiating what is the right thing to do can be so daunting and overwhelming and beyond all reasonable expectation, but I know deep in my heart that this is his path he needs to follow and I am just here to support, love and help him grow. Some people would say that I am an unconventional mother because I still nurse my toddler, I choose not to discipline with timeouts, I try not to raise my voice at my children and we don't vaccinate. A lot of the time I feel very judged for my choices and it can make the job of parenting a very lonely one. Take the case of the lead nurse attending the birth of my first child in a Montreal Hospital. This woman told me I had no business deciding for myself whether or not to medicate during labour, but that only the Doctor (or indeed she, herself) had the "wisdom" and the "authority" to decide what was best for me and my baby. She even went so far as to proclaim that my "screaming" during labour was offensive and disruptive to other patients and staff trying to get on with their jobs. Times like those can make a Mother feel very isolated and it can be incredibly frustrating because that woman was closed minded in my opinion and had no desire whatsoever to listen to my reasoning.
"The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about and refuse to investigate."
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
The way I raise my children speaks to my heart. I feel that by listening to my heart, and raising them in a gentle way that respects who they are, I am doing right by my children. I do not need my children to "obey" me, or to "be good" and "not make a peep". They are absolutely good. Without question. Regardless of how they are behaving in a certain situation. And I don't want them to "obey" anyone. I want them to be compassionate individuals who think for themselves. To know they are loved for the "good" and the "bad". Its not enough that I know they are loved unconditionally, they need to know they are loved unconditionally.
During the particularly tough parenting patches, I find myself coming back to this excerpt from a lovely book I have referenced before, The Parents Tao Te Ching.
Seeing To The Heart
Some behaviour in your children will seem "good" to you.
Other behaviour will seem unequivocally "bad".
Notice both in your children
without being overly impressed by one
nor overly dismayed by the other.
In doing so you will be imitating the Tao
which sees our behaviour as a mask
and sees immediately beneath it
to the good within our heart.
Above all, do not attack your child's behaviour
and attempt to change it
by endless talking and scolding.
Stay at your centre and look beneath the behaviour
to the heart of the child.
There you will find only good.
When you see the heart
you will know what to do.
Of course some behaviour is dangerous to the child
and to others.
Express your concern with the behaviour.
Do not attack the child.
Consider now a particular behaviour that concerns you.
Meditate carefully and see through
to the heart of your child.
What does it tell you?
Be well, friends.