What have I learned as a mother? I have learned that it is a journey. I have learned that it is something that you have to settle into because it is a lifelong commitment. Like many women without children, I had a romanticised view of what it would be like to have children. The primal urge to procreate was in me from a young age. I loved our family time growing up and I wanted to create a life like that for myself. I loved family dinners, holidays, time in the garden, Christmases and night time chats in the kitchen. These were all experiences that shaped me and filled my heart. These are all experiences that I now create for my own family.
What I could not have known was how all-consuming being a mother is. Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life. You are on duty 24/7. Even when you are away from your children, they are with you. There are 2 phone calls I will never allow to go to voicemail - my husband and the school. If I get a phone call from the school, my heart sinks, wondering if something has gone wrong. All of a sudden, I am on high alert, ready to fight any tiger that is coming to do anything to hurt my children. Yes, it is primal. The mama bear is within every mother and it can be all consuming if we don’t realise that it is instinct.
Meditation has given me the wisdom to respond to my mama bear instinct instead of reacting to it. I have learned that I do not have to be the only one to protect my children. I have learned that it is good for them to wait for me to have made time for myself. They know not to disturb me when I am on my meditation cushion. Yes, they still do it of course. That is their nature. Children are always pushing boundaries. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be upset about.
My conviction in taking this time for me every day has withstood their natural pushing against it and now they do not interrupt me (most of the time!). They are seeing how much nicer life is when their mother has meditated. And I tell them too, to reinforce it.
They both meditate, on and off, but it is not something that I enforce. Mediation is only successful if the desire comes from within. The same is for any human endeavour.
Any action we take out of fear, people pleasing or worry never has a good outcome. Any action that we take that is not inspired from a higher place of insight, is way too much work.
I do not believe in forcing my children to do anything. I do not believe in time out. I do not believe in punishment. This approach to parenting has required a lot of presence and patience on my part. Sure, when children are really small and we can pick them up, it is relatively easy to make them do things, put them in time out and punish them. Unfortunately, in the long term, it causes us problems. I approach mothering as a marathon, not as a sprint.
The highest value I hold for my children is respect. I respect them as their own persons. I believe that the reason my husband and I have chosen a Montessori education for our children is because at its core, it is a pedagogy that respects the child.
The purpose of Montessori education is to educate for peace. Montessori education follows the individual needs of the child, giving them confidence and capitalising on their sensitive periods for absorbing information. Learning becomes effortless and children develop not only a lifelong love of learning, but also a sense of partnership and collaboration with their teachers. This whole environment (especially when supported by the same home values) creates a very peaceful child. Peaceful children grow up to become peaceful adults. A world of peaceful adults creates world peace. Education is freedom.
I have become a peaceful mother because I have let go of control and I have allowed myself the joy of watching my children become who they are meant to be. I am always cultivating my mind and exploring ways to become a better woman. My hope is that this inspires my children to follow their own passions and also for them to realise that no one is perfect, we are always evolving and that they are responsible for creating their own happiness in life.
I consider myself a hands off mother, because nothing makes me happier than seeing my children achieve their own desires and seeing their confidence in themselves grow.
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.