“It was not the objective that made one a hero—it was the journey, the quest itself.” ~ Morgan Rice
It’s been said that parenting it not for the faint of heart. I’ll go further to say that it is, in fact, a hero’s journey.
Following is the account of my experience raising my child using the model of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the hero’s journey.
The Ordinary World
A darling baby is born. Cherished, adored, loved. It’s a wonderful experience, even with its sleeplessness and frenzied newness. Glorious, really.
The Call to Action
Somewhere along the way, you realize your child doesn’t fit the norm. Well, that’s actually pretty cool, you think. I don’t want my kid to be a sheep. I want him to stand out. That’s awesome!
Then it gets harder. Then school/society insists you make your child conform. They label him with a learning disability or an emotional disability or some other horrifying marker that makes you cringe and doubt your abilities as a parent. What have I done wrong? What can I do to make it right? To do right by my child?
Refusal of the Call
You acquiesce because after all, we do live in society. Don’t we all need to get along? Won’t it be easier for my child if he/she fits in? These people are the experts and I’ve only been a parent for, like, a nanosecond. Maybe I should listen to them. So you learn the ins and outs of IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings and therapist visits and the oh-so-lovely and up-to-date restraint technique for when your child loses his shit because he knows deep within his soul this is not how he is supposed to be living.
Meeting with the Mentor
You begin to question the advice given to you by the so-called experts. There are then many meetings with mentors. Many. Therapists, experts whose books you read, parenting blogs, conferences attended, you name it. They are trying to convince you that their way is right, that your instinct about what your child truly needs is wrong.
Crossing the Threshold
You finally recognize that the darling, innocent baby you held is a child with his/her own agenda. His/her own needs and desires and maybe—just maybe—this society stuff is bullshit.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
You decide to call society’s bluff. You follow your instinct and tell the others to take a flying leap. The experts, family, friends, yourself…all think you’re nuts for handling your child’s situation the way you are. You’re ignoring the experts! You’re following your intuition! What. The. Hell. Are. You. Doing?
You begin to realize there’s no expert who can really tell you how best to raise your child. You have to trust yourself and your child and just go at it. You’re scared as all hell, but you know there’s no turning back.
You’ve told the so-called authorities to go screw themselves. Deep down, you know what’s best for your kid, and hell—if you don’t your kid sure does. You’re going to follow that path now. And trust it. No matter how scared you are. And oh, you are.
The relationship between parent and child is renewed. Strengthened. The bond is unmistakable and unbreakable.
The Road Back
Your child is finding his/her way. The true way. The way of being true to him/herself. You’ve picked up how to do this, too.
Your child becomes comfortable in his/her own skin, for perhaps the first time ever. You let got of any guilt you’ve been carrying around, because you know the journey had to happen this way.
Return with Elixir
You get to share with other parents how you’ve done it. How you’ve fought against conformity and created space for your child to relish in who he/she truly is. How you’ve become a better person through this journey, and that you wouldn’t have traveled it any differently.
Author: Melissa Harrison
Editor: Travis May