Somewhere, in the first two years of Cesar’s life (and my new life as a mother) – I had a dream where Bernard visited me.
While he was there, from the get go I had placed myself in an experience of dissatisfaction, where my whole body language was clearly conveying that ‘I wasn’t enjoying myself’. Then suddenly he asked ‘So Leila, how are you enjoying motherhood?’
I was with my body turned away from him, making a pouty mouth – ready to make a complaining comment. But – there was something about Bernard asking you a question, which made the truth of you ring just a bit clearer for you to not be able to deny it.
As I wanted to open my mouth and speak – my whole demeanour dropped and softened. And I looked at him and said: I’m enjoying it. And he responded with that big grin smile of his.
And that was it.
What stood out for me in this dream, is how I have the tendency to want to complain, pity myself and seek ‘empathy’ from others – while if I look at my actual experience of myself: I am fine – and I am not just fine, but I am actually enjoying myself. This especially so for things that are challenging and trying – which the first two years of walking with Cesar definitely was.
Where, it’s almost as if just because things are hard and challenging, that I have the right to, and deserve to complain. That I should complain. That it’s expected of me to complain.
And the funny thing is – is that when I keep reacting this way, and keep playing out this pattern, then soon enough – the burden becomes real. It’s no longer just something I am playing out, pretending to be – I become it.
For myself, it was quite something to acknowledge, accept and embrace what I enjoy. That I, ‘out of all people’ was the one to have a child. That I, ‘out of all people’ really enjoyed walking with a child.
To stop fighting myself, where instead of keeping up with the idea of myself, to simply embrace and acknowledge that I do enjoy this. That if this experience is here and it is real – well, then it must be me! Lol.
The scariest part of parenting is not having a child to look after. The scariest part is seeing yourself and who you have become as a person. Before having a child, I could seek comfort in knowing myself through various aspects of my life. I was able to define myself according to ‘what I do’, as the ‘job’ or ‘career’ I assigned to myself. I could experience a sense of worth and value in what I was doing. I could define myself according to my self-image, being happy with ‘how I looked’ and that I generally fit in what is deemed as ‘normal’ within society. I could define myself according to the relationships in my life, the amount of time and activities I spent with other people. From that, I experienced a sense of belonging and acceptance.
When I got my son, this all changed. Suddenly, all my time was spent breastfeeding, nappy changing and scrambling for sleep. Who am I without my work to provide me with a sense of value and worth?
My body was still stretched out from pregnancy with stretchmarks displaying deep fiery red colours as my body’s limits got reached towards the end of pregnancy. Who am I when I cannot find solace in what I look like, knowing that I don’t fit ‘the norm’ anymore?
Interactions with others were reduced to glimpses, and whatever activity or interaction which did occur – swiftly ended by the call of the little one requiring attention. Who am I when I am disconnected from those I depended on for a sense of belonging and acceptance?
I love my baby with all my heart, yet these inner frustrations and irritations keep nagging inside myself. I must do more, I must do something else, why can’t I just sit down and have dinner with everyone else, why is my body still out of shape, why do I cringe each time he wakes or needs me?
It’s not like he is actually, physically torturing me. All he asks is a lot of my time – my physical needs are met. Then why do I want to run away? I do not want to run away from my baby – this is clear. Whenever I meet him and look into his eyes, I just see innocence. He is here, simply expressing his needs as they come along. What I want to run away from then?
Although my child is dependent on me for his physical survival, I encountered his superiority every day, in many ways. He was able to move, slowly but surely, taking the longest time – to start crawling from one side of the room to the other. One – tiny – little – shuffle – at – a time.
He could sit for an hour, moving the same object around, in absolute peacefulness.
He does not know of work, friends, body image – yet he lives in total self-acceptance.
It’s frightening to see and encounter. So busy have I been my entire life, to find all the things for myself that he lives to readily. So simply.
All my achievements and successes I cherished, seemed pale in comparison to what I was witnessing daily, in a child simply living, being here.
But – it cannot be, right? I mean, he’s a child, a baby. How can a child – POSSIBLY – hold the answers to Life. Children are wild, irrational, savage creatures. They know NOTHING! How could this child possibly have anything for me to learn. It’s tough to lay aside your ego and admit you’ve been on a wild goose chase. That a babe is more strongly connected to itself and its life force than you are. That while you are the responsible one, you are also the most ignorant.
So what to do with all of this? So much inner conflict. Yet only one thing was certain: I know that I do not know.
Humbleness is the only option.
Cesar has been going through some new developments as of late. When he goes through an experience of being ‘wronged’, he’ll run off to the closest person to cry and complain about his great misfortune. While he cries and moans, he’ll only give ‘his story’, only sharing a part of what happened, and leaving out any information indicating how he played part in creating the story, how he contributed to his own misfortune. If the person is aware of what happened and what the whole story is, they’ll challenge him to get all the information, challenge him to consider all sides/aspects of what happened so that he can learn and prevent such a situation from playing out again; rather than indulging in victimization and powerlessness (and thus inviting a replay, as he then won’t see how things could have gone differently).
Here, he slid off the couch (very softly) and went into an emotional experience about it, demanding I help him get up. Seeing what had happened and seeing he was totally fine physically, I told him to get up himself. He wasn’t very pleased with it but got himself up, and as a way of retaliation for not getting his way, where I didn’t indulge him in his emotional experience of victimization – he took a toy and hit it on my arm. I took the toy away from him while giving him a strong NO. He then ran off to Maite who was busy doing dishes, crying and moaning about his previous aw, blaming me for the experience. Maite explained to him what happened and we all sat together going over what happened, until he settled down and moved on.
It’s interesting to see and play out – him being a toddler, it is overly obvious what game he is playing. Yet, this game is a game we adults know all too well, but often don’t see it or identify it as such. Whenever something happens where we feel disempowered or ‘wronged’, it’s easier to paint off other people as being ‘the boogeyman’, it’s easier to point fingers and blame others, to gossip about another behind their backs, to only focus and see ‘our side of the story’ – rather than looking at all aspects and dimensions which played out, identifying and seeing where we contributed to the situation and experience we find ourselves in and taking responsibility for it.
It’s fascinating to see how young we already start playing out these patterns, but I am grateful for the support and people around me to equally already start at a young age to show how he can live and incorporate the correction. Not only for him, but a good reminder for us adults too! Through watching him grow and develop, seeing the quirky patterns come up – I get to introspect on myself, see how and who I have become today. As much as I’m parenting him, I’m also parenting – or re-patterning – myself to become the person I would like to be and become.
Anger is one of the emotions I faced a lot within my personal journey, and one I made a priority to deal with. Becoming angry and acting out in anger – would only lead to guilt and regret. Anger, was a real (d)anger.
Let’s look at a simple scenario to place how anger can play out and what we can learn from it.
Say, you’ve had a long day (as is every day when you are parenting a young baby/toddler) and you’ve finally found a moment to sit down and catch up on your emails. Your baby is crawling around by itself, and you pray to god that he will continue entertaining himself. As you’re clicking and reading away, you realise that your baby found your cell phone and seems quite fascinated by the lights and movements it makes as he swipes on it. You cringe inside yourself, because you know your baby doesn’t have the concept of what a phone is, how easily phones break these days and the type of financial investment they are. You really don’t want him to play with it.
But… on the other hand… you are finally having some sweet time to yourself. If you intervene and remove the phone, baby might get fussy and then it’s bye-bye me time. You weigh your options and decide to take the risk of letting baby play with the phone.
Click, click, click….Scroll, scroll, scroll. You realise how long you’ve been reading your emails and you check up on what your baby’s up to.
Oh My God!!
Did he just SLOBBER all over the phone?? Are those BITEMARKS???
You get up, rip the phone out of baby’s hands and start shouting that he must NOT PLAY WITH THE PHONE!!
Baby started crying the moment you stood up energetically and ripped the phone away. Now he’s REAL FUSSY. You see the devastating look on his face, how he has no idea what just happened. You realise the look on your own face, piercing through his heart. You regret what you did immediately, you soften up and try to comfort him.
So let’s have a look what we can learn from anger in such scenarios.
First thing I realised, is that whenever I get angry at my son, I am not actually angry at him – I’m angry at myself.
I’m upset with myself without even realising it, and instead of listening to myself and directing myself – I project the issue unto my son as if he is to blame for my experience.
Second thing I realised, is that when I get angry, it’s already too late. Why is that? Anger in itself, is a statement of ‘this is unacceptable’ – a boundary or line has been crossed. In the example above, we can see that the boundary or line was crossed the moment we decided to forgo our own common sense. The common sense being: I don’t want, and can’t afford to get my phone ruined – baby should not have access to my phone. Instead, we decided to *hope* that by some miracle the phone would be alright (which who knows, could have happened – but you don’t have any control over that) and so gave away our power to direct the situation from the get to and leave the outcome up to ‘fate’.
Then, when fate turns against us – now we get emotionally charged and angry at our baby. But why? Didn’t we make the decision to not intervene? Didn’t we leave the outcome up to chance? And now suddenly the baby has to pay for it?
This brings me to the solution of dealing with anger, which is Integrity.
What does integrity mean? Integrity means to live and uphold your principles. As within, so without.
Furthermore, integrity is linked to wholeness through its root in the word ‘intact’. Within being whole with yourself, you are living and standing undivided. Yet, the moment you uphold principles within yourself but not live/act upon them – you stand divided within yourself and so ‘cross your own boundary’. You get angry, at yourself.
Within this I realised, that the essence of anger is essentially hypocrisy, something I didn’t like seeing or realising – but cut straight to the point, and allowed me to see my adult tantrums for what they were.
So whenever I get angry or get the slightest irritation or frustration boil up inside me – I stop – and I ask myself: where am I not being true to myself? Where did I make a decision to ‘slack’ and not live up to my principles, and my utmost potential that I know I can live by? Where, and how could I have done something differently? Where am I being divided, split inside myself?
Through working and developing your own personal integrity, we can avoid these situation where we burst out and have an outcome we regret. These rash emotions and feelings which rise up, they are not here to be ‘acted out’ – they are part of our biofeedback system, pointing at a message we have yet to embrace.
Whenever you get angry, remind yourself of the word Integrity. There are two sides of the same coin, we just need the courage the flip the coin over and hear the message we require to learn.
In my previous blog I gave an example of how the beliefs we hold inside ourselves as ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ determine our perception and so the actions we take in response to what we perceive is happening.
So how do emotions and feelings as emotional turmoil fit into this picture?
What I’ve noticed with myself, is that whenever I hold a belief inside myself through which I perceive and act through – some form of emotion or feeling energy will emerge inside myself.
In the beginning of the series I had shared how I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil inside myself in the beginning phases of my parenting journey. When I finally had ‘enough’ of this hectic experience inside myself, it wasn’t that I was telling the emotional turmoil to just ‘stop it’; rather; I dropped the beliefs which I was holding on to which were creating emotional turmoil inside myself.
When I noticed this, I started to be more aware of the slightest movements inside myself – to challenge myself to see whether what I was experiencing was a reflection of the ‘reality I was in’; or whether the experience was there because I was holding on to an inaccurate view of reality and myself. Throughout time, this conclusion was affirmed time and time again.
When I would say be angry at my child, the situation wasn’t demanding of me to be angry – rather, I was perceiving reality in such a way that I believed anger was the appropriate response. The anger didn’t emerge and rise inside myself for me to act out on; the anger emerged to say ‘Hello, there’s a misalignment in how you’re perceiving your reality – you need to check what belief you are holding on to which is causing you to think and act inappropriately’.
I noticed that every emotion and feeling, and every single nuance that exists of it, would contain a specific message – a specific door that needed to be opened and for me to look into, a door to myself wherein I could see and assess what ‘guidelines’ as beliefs, ideas and perceptions I had set myself up to act in accordance to; beliefs, ideas and perceptions which would lead to disharmonious outcomes inside myself and my outer reality if I decided to act on them.
Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable fear, anger, anxiety, restlessness, excitement, adrenaline are experienced inside yourself and your body? It’s because they’re within their very nature disharmonious – and arise for us to reflect on ourselves, so we can ask: where we are being disharmonious inside and with ourselves? I’ve been a very emotional person throughout my life, and I never liked it. I don’t like the feeling of having this energy inside myself that I cannot direct and don’t know what to do with. That I can’t see or think past anything but what I am experiencing as the emotion or feeling presiding in that moment. I would avoid so many situations, especially social ones – simply because I knew I would be going through emotional turmoil inside myself, that I would not know what to do with it or how to direct it and so I rather not place myself in those positions at all. I absolutely hated these experiences coming up inside me, and being a slave to them. Not being able to do things that I wanted or with the confidence that I wanted, because so many things would trigger an emotional response inside myself that I decided that it was simply ‘not worth it’.
As a mother I hated it even more. I love my son to bits and I want the best for him – yet, I experience all these conflicting emotions and feelings inside myself. When I act on them I regret it as soon as the moment as past.
Learning that emotions and feelings are not here to limit us, but here to guide us, show us how we decided to diminish ourselves through inaccurate beliefs, ideas and perceptions about ourselves and the world – has been one of the greatest gifts received in my life. I don’t have to fear emotional turmoil. If emotional turmoil comes up in one way or the other, I can simply look at the message behind it, change my attitude and approach from limitation to empowerment: and the turmoil disappears.
All those emotions and feelings you battle with within your day to day living, they don’t really want to be there! They’re coming up to ask you to pleeeasse have a look at how you are living, how you are perceiving yourself and the world around you – and to make a change so they may disappear and you may leave in peace with yourself and your environment.
What’s more – is that as you become attuned to your own emotions and feelings and what they are trying to show you, you will be able to create a more effective and intimate relationship with your child. As a parent you may have noticed that a tantrum doesn’t come in a ‘single package’, but that the way children, toddlers and babies ‘act out’ differs from moment to moment, situation to situation. When we become attuned to how we’ve allowed ourselves to live by a limited version of ourselves, we can assist our children in showing them how they can empower themselves through conflicting experiences. With my own son who is but a toddler, most if not all of his tantrums manifest not because of a disharmonious perception on this side, but where he ‘acts out’ to reflect back to me where I have not been true to my utmost potential, and allowed limiting ideas and beliefs to control me, which also determine how I approach my son.
Besides my own emotional turmoil being there to guide me, I also have my son as an external reference to show me where I am going off path.
So if you can relate and find yourself going through your own experiences of emotional and feeling turmoil – then that’s great! Because guess what? It simply means there’s still a better, more improved version of yourself to be discovered and lived!
In my previous blog I laid out how many of us have come to accept conflict, strife and struggle as the ‘natural way of being’; the norm of our everyday experience. Since we have been holding on to this belief steadfastly for longest time throughout history, we’ve created a world which reflects our belief of ‘what reality is’ and ‘how reality operates’. This places us in an unfortunate feedback loop, as we inside ourselves believe that ‘life is struggle’ – then with our own eyes and ears observe the world around living in struggle and conflict – using this observation as evidence that = yes, indeed, my belief is accurate = living is constant struggle and conflict; and so there’s no point to further question this premise. Because we create what we hold as truth, it’s hard to even conceptualize and imagine ourselves living in harmony and having an external environment which is harmonious.
What we forget to consider is how our beliefs and all those things we consider to be ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ shape our behaviour, perception and actions to fit and match the belief we hold as truth or fact, and so how we are the ones ‘making it so’.
Let’s take for example the belief that ‘children need to civilised’. With civilised meaning ‘being cooperative and acting according to social standards’.
You hold this to be a truth, a fact of life. Now one day, you visit family with your young baby/toddler who’s recently learnt how to walk and has acquired some very basic motor skills. While you’re catching up and drinking coffee, your little one strolls around and seems to be captivated by all the plants and flowers in pots. Your little one grabs a flower and pulls it off. Then takes another one and pulls it off. It takes you a few moments to realise what your child is up to, that when you look at your child there’s already a bunch of leaves and flowers on the floor and your child is just picking away. A surge of energy runs through your body and you shout out ‘Bad Lily!’ (Or whatever your child’s name might be). ‘Stop it!’ and you grab the baby away who in the meantime has a look of petrification and confusion on its face as she’s still trying to figure out what just happened and why she’s so bad. You put her in a corner and tell her to ‘stay there’ to teach her lesson. Picking flowers and leaves is bad, you are killing the plant and you are destroying our host’s decoration. Bad, bad bad!
You go sit down sighing, thinking why your child is always doing these inappropriate things, like she’s out to get you and never give you an easy time. You think about how it’s just going to take more time to discipline her and have her learn her place and that this won’t go on forever.
Within this example, the parent had already made up its mind that children are inherently naughty and a disturbance, requiring to go through a training or disciplining process to have them ‘behave correctly’.
When my little one started pulling off flowers and leaves for the first time, I also got a fright. I immediately assumed I had to stop and intervene, that this was ‘bad’. I noticed the surge of energy inside myself, and instead decided to take a deep breath and really look at the situation. He kept pulling off flowers, and then he would pick them up and try to ‘put them back’. Yet they’d just dwindle down to the ground. He tried a few more times and went ‘Oh’.
He didn’t go to the plants and flowers with the intention inside himself of ‘I am going to kill this plant and destroy this pretty garden gna gna gna’. He just kind of looked at the plants, the flowers, got curious about what they’re all about. Without knowing why he started picking at the flowers, checking what happens. He tries to put them back. Hmm, they fall back off. That’s interesting. So once they are off, they’re off.
He was going through a genuine learning experience, figuring out how things work. What happens if I do this? What happens if I do that?
So I joined him and I talked to him about the plants and how if you pick a flower, the flower cannot be put back. How the flower will not have access to water from the plant and its root system and eventually wilt and die. Now he learnt something about plants.
If we go back to the example of shunning and reprimanding your child, where you assume they are being bad because you’ve already decided that they are inherently bad and act on negative impulses – then you end up with a child in the corner who looks like they are bad. You end up with what you believed about the child because your perceptions and actions were guided by the belief which you held as ‘fact’ and ‘truth’. Was the child really bad? No, they were just exploring. They did not intend to ruin your day or upset you, that’ something you did. You decided to react and believe that all these ‘bad and terrible things’ are happening to you. The child didn’t intend to kill the plant or destroy household decoration. They don’t even have a concept of what that means or entails.
If this is a repetitive behaviour on the parent’s side, the child will learn that it is not safe to explore and be curious in the presence of the parents, and start doing things in secret in hiding. It will start doing and playing with things when you’re not around and where you are unable to guide them or prevent harm because they believe there is no other way that they can express their curiosity without your intervention and reprimanding. Now you find your child has been breaking things after the fact. Oh my god, I have such a bad child. Not seeing and realising that we pushed the child in that position where we are not guiding them through learning experiences to come to a point of understanding, but merely wanting them to behave ‘good’ without explaining or substantiating what that actually means.
This type of disharmonious behaviour becomes the result and consequence of holding to beliefs which are disharmonious to the true nature of reality, as the utmost potential of what Life on Earth can be.
I know finished my previous blog stating I would go further into why emotional conflict and turmoil exists, though for this blog I found it necessary to illustrate how what we believe and hold as ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ does not have to be in fact so, so that we can learn to be open to alternative possibilities and that our experience of how ‘the way things are’ doesn’t have to be an unchangeable reality, but is something that we create in every moment of our day to day living.
See you in the next blog!
Within blogs to come, I want to open up the topic of Emotional Turmoil within parenting.
Emotional Turmoil has been something which has been present within myself within my own parenting journey from the get go, and seems to be a reoccurring theme on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy parenting or have fun with my child, but that regardless of my intention to have a harmoniously relationship with my child, inner conflict in the form of Emotional Turmoil will always come and stick up its head.
Topics will range from:
– Can I have a harmoniously relationship with my child?
– Is it possible for parenting to not be ‘so hard’?
– Is conflict and frustration inevitable and a normal part of the parenting journey? – Why do I experience so much Emotional Turmoil?
– What are my inner conflicts as my emotions and feelings trying to tell me?
– Is it okay to acknowledge my emotional Turmoil or must I be strong and simply push it away?
Keep an eye on the blogs to come, and hopefully you will enjoy the journey as much as I do!
#parenting #emotionalturmoil #selfempowerment #motherhood #psychology #challenges
Original art by @andrewgableart from his Self-Empowerment series:
When I was pregnant, I was very worried about what was ahead of me. About how I was going to be responsible for this child, how I would influence him. Little did I know, that I wasn’t so much influencing and changing him, as he was changing and influencing me for the most part. This reminded me again of the importance of words and definitions, wherein my definition of ‘being a mother’ constituted an aspect of ‘monologue’ where I assumed it was about me ‘instructing’ and ‘educating’ my child, instead of realising that it’s a two way dialogue and that he ended up having to teach me more than I did to him!
This is a continuation to Utter Dependence & Access to Life | Part 1
In my previous blogpost I mentioned how the first three months were the hardest, as my baby needed my constant availability to meet his needs.
Here, I faced an interesting point, because even though no-one can deny that it is physically intensive to tend to another being 24/7 for three months, it wasn’t the physical ‘toughness’ which hit me the most – but the mental wall I hit.
I was in a constant friction between meeting my baby’s needs and meeting my own ‘needs’.
Practically speaking, all my needs were actually taken care of. I had a comfortable room, I got access to plenty of food and water, I was able to rest for moments and tend to my hygiene.
The ‘needs’ which weren’t getting met where my mental needs. These were the collective of all the things I believed I ‘should be doing’ and ‘should be getting’. I thought it was wrong to spend every moment of every day tending to my baby. I needed to ‘do something’, I needed to ‘be productive’. In how I was raised, much emphasis was given to the value of achievement and producing tangible results. Not only at home or in school, but also in the general system/society we’ve set up. Unless you’re doing something productive, unless you are contributing (in the sense of how ‘productivity’ and ‘contribution’ are defined within material accumulation) – you are useless and you must be lazy/evil/selfish. We see this in the way the labour system is set up – unless you are working and you are employed and functioning as a ‘human resource’, you will not receive (sufficient) income to live a dignified life.
I was restless, I shouldn’t have to be taking care of this ‘needy’ being. I should be doing things, making things. I honestly believed that these ‘urges’ were a reflection of positive ambitions within myself, that I was ‘wanting to be a good person’ and ‘contribute to the whole’. But then why was I stressing out so much about it, why was this restlessness almost painful?
As I looked deeper into my ambitions, I noticed they were not in fact ‘positive reflections’ of who I am, but were actually stemming from deeply negative fears and feelings inside myself. I wasn’t truly interested in being ambitious and being productive, I was driving myself to be so in order to get away from the dark nagging feeling inside myself, that if I were not to pursue these ambitions, that if I were not to be ‘productive’ = that I will be rejected, that I will be ostracized, that I will be excluded from the community, from society and be left to fend for myself. I was afraid that ‘Who I Am’ as a being is not enough, and that it is all about ‘what I do’.
I tried to push for being productive, for engaging in ‘work’ – to show my value, to show that ‘I am needed’ and not completely useless. But for me to pursue this, I had to compromise my baby’s needs. I had to ignore him to ‘get to my own things’. And he grew increasingly unhappier and unhappier. Inside myself, I was feeling more comfortable, because I was engaging myself, the fear of being useless wasn’t so prominent – but now I am in a situation with a deeply unhappy baby; and so inner conflict and turmoil still remained, they just shifted sides. I managed to appease my inner reality, but now my external reality was in distress.
So, tired of all the conflict, friction and turmoil – I took a moment to stop, to pause and re-evaluate everything which I was doing and how what I was participating within was affecting my child.
My inherent fear that who I am as Life is not good enough, was a belief so entrenched within myself that I felt the need to constantly prove my worth. In doing so, I was consequently no longer meeting my child’s needs in order to appease my own fears and self-worth insecurities. But within doing so, I was creating an environment for my child where HIS worth, HIS value was being undermined. He was in agony, his needs are not being met – are his needs not worth of being met? Is his Life not valuable enough to be completely secured?
Unintentionally, by wanting to avoid my own sense of worthlessness, this was exactly what I was creating for my child.
I was (and still am) in a unique situation. I live with a group of people who can support me and the livelihood of my child and myself where my financial stability remained the same whether I was being ‘productive’ or not. I had a choice. I did not have to insist on working, I had in fact the choice to dedicate myself to taking care of my baby completely and absolutely, without this compromising my livelihood.
So I made a decision. I will be there for my baby, absolutely.
Obviously this is easier said than done. As I was living the decision to dedicate myself to my baby absolutely, many fears, insecurities, frictions and doubts would still rise up. These were deeply ingrained within my unconscious mind from my own upbringing. The only way I could stand by and live my decision, was to investigate all the thoughts, emotions and feelings which would come up, to forgive myself for them and let them go. The only way I could state and secure my child’s worth in this world, was by stating and securing mine (which honestly, would have been a lot more difficult, if not impossible had it not been for the supportive environment I live in).
I had to redefine worth and value for myself, to see, recognize, realise and live the worth and value of taking care of another being, another life – who as a baby was completely helpless, dependent and physically incapable of any ‘productive input’. Yet when you look into a baby’s eyes – you know, you see that they have the right to life, you know they have the right to be here and live a fulfilling life. Yet despite this knowledge, we’ve somehow still managed to create a world system and environment which constantly pushes people to the brink of survival, constantly pushing people to compromise on living for the sake of acquiring just the necessary resources to ‘make it another day’. A system that insists you are not good enough and need to constantly prove your worth, where you need to compete because if you’re not up for the job – well, you can simply be replaced.
For several months – I was no-one, I was nothing, I was just darkness. Who I was as the person I used to be and live, the personality I had accustomed to identify myself with as ‘who I am’ as all my hopes, dreams, fears and desires – was non-existent. There was a complete silence within myself. All I did was serve. I served my baby and his life in every moment of every day, and in doing so I served my own.
Is this the perfect way to come into being into this world? I would say no.
Looking at my son, he hated being completely helpless and dependent. He hated that his every need was dependent on a responsiveness of my own.
Is it necessary? At the moment I would say yes.
The manifestation of a baby as a completely helpless and dependent being – forces us to push to the absolute extreme realisation that we are in fact interdependent. That ‘no-one’ is an island. That every individual person’s actions affects the whole.
That for a child to come into this world and realise its utmost potential, we have to stand as the living example. If we want the child to grow up accepting and realising its self-worth, we must stand as an environment which resonates this. If a child comes into the world in an environment of compromise, of conditionality – then that is what the child will integrate and become. We can’t have one without the other. We can’t bring children into this world, seeing them as a fresh new start and believing it is ‘all up to them’ to make a brighter future. It is for us to set the foundation in place.
Does that mean that I will keep tending to my child’s every need into eternity and protect him from the outside dysfunctional world into eternity? No
The transition of the child to move from helplessness and complete dependence to one of being capable and independent (in so far that we can, really be ‘independent’) is a process. As he moves and grows, my services, my ‘interventions’ become less and less. My availability remains constant, but the frequency that this availability is being called upon diminishes and diminished overtime.
He learns that he is not dependent on myself as the mother with the breasts and the breastmilk to fill his tummy. There are other resources available. He learns that I am there when I need him which translates into self-confidence and self-reliance. He learns that he can give himself direction, but that I will be there when he finds himself in an unknown situation. From this unknown situation and my presence, his learns and integrates new perspectives which he next time can apply on his own.
Securing and dignifying his being, his presence and life – he learns that others deserve the same treatment. He learns to look at situations within the consideration of not only what is best for him but what is best for everyone.
There’s often a fear that gets expressed when seeing someone take care of a baby’s every need that he will become dependent, immature – emotionally attached forevermore. That we need to show the child that the world is ‘a hard place’, ‘that nothing comes easy’ and that ‘they better get used to it’.
This is a false dilemma – as if there is no other way than preparing your child for the harsh reality we live him by deliberately instilling a sense of insecurity inside themselves. We can in fact, provide a sound foundation in the child’s life – where his self-worth and self-appreciation is so absolute that no matter the challenges he or she will face in life, he or she will not doubt one’s ability to respond to these challenges – and to look, see and analyse any and all situations from a practical common sense perspective; rather than coming from a fear of losing its self-worth and seeing that self-worth being entirely dependent on how their external environment treats them.
Dependency, immaturity and emotional attachment come about when one’s self-worth is NOT secured, when one’s self-value is NOT dignified – and forevermore seek out confirmation from our environment that we are allowed to be here, that we are allowed to express ourselves. Every action, experience and move we make – is fear driven, driven by the belief that we are not worthy and dependent on others to give it to us.
(Funny enough, before I was cooking up this post I was reading a book about horses and the human-horse relationship, where their ‘fight or flight’ stress response was compared to that of a child where many similarities were found. Here a little snippet on the research done around this subject:
“Biological psychology researcher Megan Gunnar and her colleagues did infant studies that confirmed animal research findings. In their work, infants three months of age who received consistent responsive care produced less cortisol. Also, eighteen-month-olds classified as insecurely attached (who had received lower levels of responsiveness) revealed elevated levels of stress hormone.7 These same children at age two continued to show elevated levels of cortisol and appeared more fearful and inhibited. Again, these children were those who had been classified as having lower levels of maternal responsiveness.8 Other investigations have confirmed these findings.9 Dr. Gunnar reports that the level of stress experienced in infancy permanently shapes the stress responses in the brain, which then affect memory, attention, and emotion.10”
The horse book (Tao of Equus) also made reference to the work of Dianna Hine)