We welcome these helpless little babies into our lives and believe ourselves to be the ultimate force that cares for them and keeps them alive. But of course that is ridiculous! What keeps them alive is so much bigger than us. It's their own life force--that which drives them to nurse and breathe and move and connect. And it's something that I think of as Life Itself or Interdependence or Spirit.
It's not us.
We have a role, and it's a very important role. But it's not THE role.
Each child is born into the world a sovereign being, on a path that none of us understand. There will be challenges and gifts and handicaps that no sane parent would sign a child up for, but that may just be the most important things this being will encounter. Maybe it'll be a reading disability, or an allergy. Maybe a brilliant intellect or a weak one, a very sensitive personality or an insensitive one. Maybe the kind of physical circumstances that would make a weak person just give up and die, but somehow inspire this particular being to dig in and LIVE.
We are not in charge of the path. We are not in charge of challenges or gifts, only of helping these beings to be ready to face them. Connection and love are our true offerings, not safety or comfort.
If we are wise, we look on our children as incredible, wise, sovereign beings right from the start. We recognize that they are the ones who will rise to each occasion, who can and must conquer each challenge, the pain of falling down as they learn to walk or their first heartbreak. We honor their innate drive to learn and grow, the deep inner knowing that somehow guides them along their true path, and (at the same time) their profound need to be seen, loved, and accepted by us.
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.