There are few things you must know to become a wise parent. You must know that you are going to die, for then you will be able to truly live.
You must know when you have enough, for then you will be content. You must know how to laugh, for then you will find healing.
There are many things you need not know. You need not know everything your children think or do. You need not know their secret dreams and hopes. You need not know how life will unfold for them, or for yourself.
Live your own life, with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul. There is no need to live theirs. They will do that wonderfully by themselves.
– William Martin, The Parents Tao Te Ching
This beautiful piece by William Martin is an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching in his book ‘The Parents Tao Te Ching, A New Interpretation, Ancient Advice for Modern Parents.’ I think this is an incredible illustration of the role of a parent to raising a child. Creating and nurturing a human being is a very spiritual experience once we surrender to the natural beauty of human life, and since being involved in this beautiful dance of motherhood I have found that my daughter has taught me many lessons along our incredible adventure.
The popular Tao Te Ching is a very philosophical approach to the way of life. It captures the beauty of life once we pause to acknowledge what is happening around us. Many people have continued to interpret the Tao Te Ching bringing light to the verses, however I love the interpretation for parents by William Martin. He highlights natural parenting, conscious parenting, and simply learning to let go, surrender and go with the flow alongside your child. His book really resonates with my attitude towards life and have found a deep connection with applying it to being a mother.
Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers, and you become the student.
Your children may frequently change the focus of their attention. But this is not restlessness. It is curiosity. When they are doing something they are doing only that until they move on to the next thing. Watch them. Let them set the pace. See what you can learn.
– William Martin, The Parents Tao Te Ching
Over the last few years I have found great love for meditation and mindfulness, and this turned up a notch when I was pregnant. It has gone up a further notch since becoming a mother, losing my grandma and then losing dad. All of these three experiences taught me to truly be present in life. Life is here, life is precious, and life is beautiful. It can be truly magnificent if we allow it, and this happens when we find the joy of being.
My beautiful daughter has taught me so many things, a lot of this happened due to becoming more conscious and mindful to the present moment.
Lessons from a little cherub:
- Surrender. This is the greatest gift she has given to me. Learning to surrender has been such a wonderful, freeing and much needed piece of mindset that has enabled me to slow down my pace of life and actually be present in the moment. This started when she was born and I spent the first two weeks snuggled up in bed with her during the “babymoon” phase that my midwives highly recommended and I happily did. We snuggled, rested, slept, and built our breastfeeding relationship. From those early days snuggled in bed to thee last 15 months we have learned so much along the way about life. Her feeds come way before my idea of “must-do’s” and to-do lists. Her needs are a priority and cleaning the floor can wait! Dirty hair that I need to wash? Forget it, I’m off to snuggle my baby!
- Just be. Babies live in the moment. They don’t focus on the past or the future, they are all about this present moment. She constantly reminds me to just stop, breathe and be present in life. As adults we have become so used to either thinking about the past or worrying about things in the future, and then we lose what is most important, the here and now. This is life, here, not over there!
- Accept. She has taught me to accept life as it is. Accept who I am. Accept who she is. And simply accept who we all are and what we all do. I follow a more natural approach to parenting and have found great information from books on conscious parenting and mindful living. All of the principles outlined in these books click with how I think and feel about life and parenting. I have found incredible mantras to help me in certain moments such as getting frustrated and then reminding myself to focus on a mantra that calms me down and brings me back to life. I have found very helpful tips on being a more conscious parent to help raise a more conscious child by being rather than always doing.
- Let go. She has taught me to let go of control. It is so easy to think that we should control our children but it is my belief that we don’t truly own them. Yes we have created these remarkably beautiful humans and we are responsible for them, however they are their own unique spirit with their own signature. They need freedom to find out who they are, what they like and don’t like, space to explore, learn and be creative. At the same time giving them the great gift of our presence. Be by their side as they explore but don’t control that adventure, just watch and observe in silence. Of course there has to be some discipline but only what seems truly appropriate in that situation and at that stage of their life. Give them space to breathe and let them find out who they are, and honour their life, whilst giving them oodles of love and affection.
- Love. I am on a journey to understanding the meaning of love. When I was pregnant I had a deep feeling of pure joy. The moment I birthed Sophia and saw her for the first time my whole mind, heart and body felt a way it has never done before – pure joy and love. Emotion from deep within filled my every cell and I knew right there and then that I had found pure love for this little girl. Every day since over these last 15 months has been filled with such love. Every phase she goes through, every small and big development in her life, every breastfeeding snuggle, smile, giggle, hug, kiss, every single moment I feel pure love for this life. She has taught me how to love truly unconditionally.
- Be fearless. She has reminded me to embrace adventures and have fun. Over the last few years I lost part of what made me come alive. I was always one to have fun, play, go on adventures, do silly things and just simply enjoy life. I think I got lost amongst the health and fitness industry which dulled part of me whilst being on a quest to be a great personal trainer and wellness coach and being involved in many fitness programmes, and having a phase which made me get out of shape and made me feel like hell. And then being hit with the loss of grandma and dad. But losing dad and grandma, and the life of Sophia have reminded me to start living again, finding the.joy in life and doing the things that make me come alive. On top of that she reminds me every single day to just get back up again. Fallen and hit your head? Have a little cry and get back up again to play in the same area. There is no fear over that cupboard even if fingers just got trapped. Every little fall is just a moment and it doesn’t need to be made into such big drama. It happens. Life happens. Get back up and carry on enjoying life.
There are many more lessons this little cherub teaches me but the list would be extremely long. She constantly teaches me things that I had either forgotten or never truly realised. It saddens me that we easily get distracted by the many complications of modern day life. A child is a beautiful reminder of how simple life can be which can be thoroughly enjoyed every single day.
Now is the time to live. Just live life.