I’ve always wondered how I can raise my family and also be me, as my own devoted, reverent spiritual being, while handling all of the tasks and meeting the needs and expectations of others all of the time.
These two sides of me seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, busy Mom versus quiet Monk.
Yet, lately, I’m beginning to realize we can be both mothers and spiritual beings, simultaneously interweaving each role into one purpose, with each role supporting and fueling the other, amidst the present circumstances exactly how they are, and this is exactly how it’s meant to be.
I once saw a TV special on the “Buddha” and during his life as a human, at one point, he had a child on the way and knowing of the burden and responsibility required of him as a parent, he chose to flee and instead nurture his spiritual path, knowing his destiny was “greater” than this role alone, and consequently, abandoned his potential role as a father to instead play the “Enlightened One.”
And whether this story is entirely true or not (that I do not know), we have surmised this belief that if we are parents, we cannot also be authentically spiritually-endeavored, as we are bound by the constraints of parental responsibility, lack of freedom, and the efforts required, and to keep both alive within us would be nearly impossible.
As a conscious mother and soulful woman with ambition, I tend to feel that I am tugged into two drastically different directions at all times. On one hand, I’m a busy mother, caregiver, and primary space-holder for my children and household—always on-task to keep my family/children safe, well and functioning. And on the other hand, I am a spiritual being embodying a strong conviction of soulful compassion, justice, and purpose and willfully attempting to integrate these qualities into my “mom- life” experience.
I’ve always felt like I was balancing on a fence between who I am and who I wanted to be, not knowing which direction I was truly meant to go. One side being alongside my family and the other side leading to some unknown “greater purpose.”
I have often felt the tug or pull to leave one side of me for the other, to “escape” one for the other. “In order to be a good mother, I do not have the time to tend to self or clear my mind, I must stay to care for my children.” Or “in order to be an authentic spiritual person and live out my purpose, I must get out of these four walls that cage me and away from all this noise or volatility.” Or, my personal favorite, “not all of us get to sit on a mountaintop in stillness all day, must be nice! There goes my chance at enlightenment.” (And who am I kidding? Sitting in Lotus pose all day is so not me anyway!)
While I desire to be a good mother to my children and perform at my best, I have also felt that I have a duty to my soul and to this planet beyond my role as a mother that never quite fit in to the daily “schedule” of raising children (and the billions of extensions to this), working, commuting, cleaning, shopping, cooking. To me, in order to be more “spiritual,” I would need to take more space, meditate more, and simplify things (which is relatively impossible with two children in two different schools and two adults with two different jobs plus the high demands of our modern-day culture).
It is also assumed that to be “spiritual in nature,” it would require my attention, time, solitude, and generally some form of (spiritual) practice. But it is rare for me to have the time to connect to myself/Self or be out in nature alone or communing with Spirit or anything outside of tending to and playing with my children and the daunting to-do list. Most of my efforts and energy are focused on the household. This often makes me feel as if I’m negating my true destiny, that which seems beyond my calling as “just Mom.”
However, I’m beginning to realize these are not separate initiatives; they are one in the same—two sides of the same coin. We are meant to have each of these sides to us, not in the attempt to go in two different directions and scatter ourselves everywhere, but to come into one whole, united being, blending our spiritual/true nature amidst real, raw life, exactly as it is, with all the dishes and tantrums and fights and madness that is a functioning family—especially as a family full of boys, I would know!
I don’t have to straddle a fence anymore wondering which way to go and how I am going to get to that mountaintop for peace and revelation. The way to go is to be right here, in this moment right now, with whatever is happening in real life, and then breathe new life or consciousness into these “everyday” moments by coming back to myself/Self when the opportunity arises, or making the opportunity arise as needed in the midst of it all; that finding even a morsel of space amidst the chaos is enough. Even if minimally touched upon, our sense of self and spirituality nourishes, inspires, and supports us as mothers, as well as our families, through us.
This is reaching true enlightenment, drawing spirit/consciousness into the mundane, and finding harmony between both, not escaping into a temple to be alone.
We can blend both motherhood and “Buddha”-hood into one joint purpose, balancing each within us to make the world a better place. There is no greater contribution than holding space for children to feel safe and to be themselves. We are laying the foundation for the next generation that will carry on this/our legacy.
To be a mother as a spiritual being is the purpose. This is not “playing small,” this is the most valuable path there is. It is not necessary to flee one for the other or to sacrifice one for the other entirely—and this doesn’t require sitting on a mountaintop fasting for 12 hours a day—it simply requires that we borrow little moments to connect in whatever ways bring us back to ourselves, and in doing so, we are better mothers for it.
Through our presence and embodiment as one united front, there is nowhere else to go but here and there is nothing more to be than who we are right now and we can find joy in life just as it is.