It is challenging to be a career-oriented parent, especially for night owl creative types like me. Being a spiritually-oriented parent is equally challenging, especially for those who (like me) are used to having an hour each day to practice yoga or meditation in perfect silence and bliss.
But what would it be like to be all three at once? Is it possible to be a creative professional, an avid spiritual seeker and a dedicated parent?
I am 35 and the mother of a beautiful one-and-a-half-year-old little girl. I am an architect, and I run my own practice together with my husband. I am a yogi, a reiki master, a qi gong/tai chi practitioner, and an avid reader of any spiritual books I can get my hands on.
I always wanted to be a mother, but I didn’t always feel ready for it. I didn’t know what effect it would have on my career—or on my spiritual life for that matter. Would it all come to a halt? What would life after children be like?
I took my time to get there. I got as far along in my career and my credentials as I could. I did a lot of traveling. I spent time getting to know myself as well I could, healing whatever needed to be healed and learning as many spiritual practices as I could. If all was about to end after kids, then at least I had made it this far! In retrospect I’m glad I took the time to do all that. When I finally decided I was ready to have a child, I knew I was ready to be available to another human being. Although I had always wanted to be a mother, I hadn’t really felt “available” until then. Deep inside, regardless of my external life circumstances, my key questions were: Am I happy? Do I feel fulfilled in life? Am I at peace? I had to take the time to sort myself out. If I hadn’t found inner balance, why would I want to bring a child into my world?
Of course we don’t have to be perfectly enlightened beings before having children; that’s highly unlikely. But I believe we should be committed to our own conscious evolution—to becoming the best that we can become. If everyday we become more aware of our own thoughts and actions and take responsibility for them, we are on our way, and that’s all that’s really required to be a conscious parent.
Having a child was a conscious decision for me.
I realized that the choice to become a parent, when taken consciously, comes from a desire to be of service to the development of another human consciousness. The choice doesn’t come from need or lack—the need to have someone to love me back, or to take care of me when I get old, or to fill a gap in my life, or to fix any relationship problems or to succeed where I couldn’t. No, the choice came from something greater.
When I think of parenting from a conscious perspective, my greatest realization is that our kids really owe us nothing. Period. Not money, time or even love. It is our choice to be of service. We can take responsibility for that.
Life is a gift—given with unconditional love. We were given this gift so we could go learn, explore, expand, and be great. It’s like winning the lottery, except we are all winners. We are all born with “a million bucks” in our “accounts.” What we choose to do with it is entirely up to us.
We are each born with consciousness. As a parent, we gift another human being with a body (or a vehicle) through which they can experience their gift of consciousness. That is the most amazing gift we as human beings could give to another, is it not? That is one of the biggest lessons that being a parent has taught me.
I have also learned that kids are not “mini” versions of ourselves. I believe that I am the best version of myself there is out there, whether I am consciously aware of this or not. And I think the same of every human being out there—including my own child. Our kids are also here to develop and expand their own consciousness, to fulfill their own mission. As parents, the best we can do is to support them in that.
Parenting is a role, not an identity. We have to do the best we can as a parent, without becoming too attached to being a “Parent.” It’s a tricky thing.
If you haven’t had children yet, aren’t sure if you will have them, or can’t have children for whatever reason, I would suggest you consider that as an opportunity for self-focus. Don’t turn the self-focus toward your ego, becoming more inflexible and fixed in your ways as you grow old. Rather, take that as permission to be always growing and expanding.
If you do become a parent, out of conscious choice or not, that is not permission to focus your whole life on another human being and forget about your own path and mission here. We are all still responsible for the evolution of our own consciousness and what we do with that “million bucks” in our pocket. We still have our own path to follow—just as our children have theirs. If anything, now we have good reason to become even more conscious of it because there is another human being looking to us for an example of how to live.
As it turns out, my career and my spiritual life did not come to an end as a result of becoming a parent—who knew! (Okay, it really did for the first year when my only concern was making sure my baby and I were both alive, fed and getting at least some sleep. But we made it through that “survival phase.” Phew!) Today, I am as creative and productive as I have ever been, my business is thriving, I’m on a zero-sugar, fully vegan diet, I do an hour of qi gong and meditation every night, a half-hour yoga/meditation practice every morning, I attend tai chi classes, and I can read spiritual books faster than ever.
And yes, I also spend a lot of time with my sweet baby girl everyday, and thanks to a supportive husband, I learned that having enough “time” is an incredibly relative concept when it comes to living a life we love.
In my experience, it is possible to be an active professional, an avid spiritual seeker and a dedicated parent—if we don’t place limitations on ourselves. Life is meant to be enjoyed, embraced and lived from the heart! It is a gift—to ourselves and to others.
Author: Ana Sandrin
Image: Klaus Balzano/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel