There’s a huge sign on my closet door that says, “You’re the best mom in the world.”
I woke up to it laying next to me one morning. Both of my children designed it and left it as a surprise, years ago, simply because…they woke up before I did. I woke up to this sign today.
I did my morning meditation.
I went into the kitchen to find a breakfast of two eggs for eyes and a mouth made of strawberries, sitting on a plate with a fresh flower placed next to the forks she set out for us on a freshly cleaned table.
She’s my daughter and she’s nine.
She writes notes about her wishes for world peace and a place where people are happy and don’t judge each other for how we look. I’ve walked into the house from mowing to find her scrubbing the floor on hands and knees without being asked. She leaves random notes in the mailbox waiting for me when I come home that tell me she loves me. She says she’s “basically a little me,” and if that’s true, I’ve been underestimating myself for a long time.
But, the kid will not clean her room when I ask her to.
Then there’s my son to do the rounding up of troops for said “surprise” breakfast and the entertaining. He walks in as I eat my smiley face breakfast with four sharp pencils attached to each of his fingers with rubber bands much like a scene out of a horror film with a smile on his face as if he’s accomplished something great. He stocks up on food for the zombie apocalypse which he is sincerely into, like cannot get off of, into.
Still, sometimes when his sisters friends come over, he’ll give them a can out of his survival stash. He listens deeply. He loves sparingly but what he loves he loves from his bones.
He loves me and he’s eleven.
People have asked me to surrogate their children. I’ve had people say they wanted to have kids and let me raise them. I’ve had adults ask if they could be my kids. I’m here to let the world in on my beliefs about parenting.
My children are not my children, they are God’s children
I see my children as having chosen me to come through as a vessel sent by God to learn their karmic lessons. I believe we are all children of God giving birth to each other, whether physically, energetically, or emotionally everyday.
They were a gift to me, but what I think a lot of people forget when we get down on ourselves about parenting, is that I too, am a gift to them. I am not their superior nor are they mine. We are all God’s children, and we’re sharing a journey of discovering that. There is no hierarchy to be established. We have a shared mission. It repels a lot of power struggles to know that at the core, we’re all in this together.
They are the chairs for the rule-making committeeI
I check in with my children from time to time, asking them if they trust me to make decisions for them. I put them in charge of trusting me and letting me know when I’ve gotten off track.
I mean decisions like: there’s a fire, where do we run out of the house? Decisions on where to go camping that meets all of our hopes. It’s my responsibility to steer the boat that carries our journey, but the captain must be as malleable as the wind that hits her sails.
They make the decisions about whether or not they are going to go to an art camp this summer, who they are willing to hug, and even, if they’re going to do their homework.
We’ve made family rules together since they were able to sign their name after discussing all our needs. But any of us, at any given time, use our discretion to change up the rules, and we trust each other to do so. Trust is at the basis of this.
Hell, I’ve never even “baby-proofed” my house. I’ve trusted them with their own lives since they were infants.
I will never sacrifice for my children. I may invest. I will never sacrifice.
Whenever I hear a parent say, “I’ve sacrificed so much for you and you give me this!” I feel terrible for them. That’s a long, painful road to disappointment. When I would hear my own mother scream this in my face, all I could envision was me screaming, “I never asked you to!” back.
Unless you’re being sacrificed on a cross, or on some high mountain and your next moment is heaven, sacrificing in the daily is a slow, suffocating death that feels like constant pressure. We almost believe we have to sacrifice to survive.
That makes no sense.
I nursed my babies through my masters degree, working full time, and founding an environmental charter school that they now attend, as a single parent. I never once thought, “I’m sacrificing my degree for my children,” or “I’m sacrificing my children for my career.” I invested! And not necessarily in my children, but in myself.
I loved breastfeeding. I loved learning. I loved the thought of my children receiving free alternative education. I loved being single. I loved going to work so we could one day own a home. I loved my children.
I never did anything for them, that I wasn’t doing for myself because how could I? I take care of me so I can take care of them. I invest in myself which is an investment in them. If I felt like I was cutting off an arm for their existence, I’d resent them. I always felt like they demanded I give more to myself so I can give more to them. I didn’t sacrifice an ounce of myself because i never did anything i couldn’t find a way to love.
I never lost myself because I promised myself, for the sake of my children really knowing their mother, I wouldn’t.
I’m raw. I dance. I clean the house in a bandana, hardly any clothes and high heels…”if” I ever clean the house. I speak the truth with the world, including my children which often sounds like, “What the fuck is up with that? Seriously?” And they respond without some notion that I’m cursing but rather, that I’ve asked them a question. I laugh hard and I throw temper tantrums right back at them when they try to pull one on me.
I make it a point to see my children and let them see me.
I don’t mean like see them in the morning for breakfast. I mean, see, feel, inhale the essence of who they are. If there is something I’d want to change about them in the moment, I gauge my own energy accordingly without “changing” them. If they are being loud, rather than say, “Shhh!!” I’ll become quiet. If they are arguing with each other, I’ll start laughing. I see what their soul is asking to learn and most often the teaching has little to do with words.
I’ve even looked in the rear view mirror after saying “straps” which means “put on your seat belt” in our house, to see an unstrapped child sitting there doing nothing. I drove to the end of the drive and slammed on my breaks. I silently looked back as he was scurrying, putting on his seat belt. I see with my soul, and preach without a lot of words. There’s a lot of silent communication that exists when two people really see each other.
It’s my responsibility to change, not theirs (because I’m all I really can change)
I let them love what they love without wishing they’d love something else. If it doesn’t affect me or their safety, they call the shots for their lives and in doing so I really get to see the person God and I created.
It takes all of the pressure off to see them and allow them to be exactly who they came here to be. I don’t have to dictate. They don’t have to resent. I don’t have to worry about other people judging my children which in turn would make me ridicule them to “get in line.” They get to relax into being who they are, as I do the same.
On all fronts, all I’ve ever done as a mother, was…kept being willing to change. To see a new perspective, or pattern, or strength.
I never tried to change who they are at the core, and trust me I’ve wrestled with wanting to. I had to be willing to open to seeing something different than the day before.
To see myself in the experience, my desire for freedom and control: to see the way I experience the world because indirectly it becomes the way my children will experience the world. And if I don’t like what I see, I change it in me, not them.
I’ve learned that when we’re allowed to be exactly who we came here to be, the results usually look like waking up to a smiley face on a breakfast made with love aside of fresh flowers.