As my daughter gets older I find my hopes and desires as a parent and my yoga crashing into one another. This is a tough one for me. I am now the mom of a tween, but she’s soon to be a teen. As the months count down I’m really digging deep and reflecting on what yoga teaches me about parenting. But I guess, it’s more than yoga. It’s a compilation of wisdom that I call my belief system. It’s not strictly from one tradition and that fits me well as a yogini. Yoga doesn’t ask you to believe in a specific religion and while it does talk generally about god, it never says which god. So I gather wisdom from Buddhism, Yoga, Quantum Physics, my friends and colleagues that I look up to.
Over and over I’m taught to take care of myself and let other’s walk their path, no matter how painful, hurtful or irritating I may find it. And my daughter will be 13 soon. In the Jewish tradition she’ll be an adult. And before you start leaving comments and sending emails, I know that she’s not an adult as our current society believes and still needs my supervision and guidance, but 13 is an important age. Thirteen is a turning point. It’s pivotal, for her and for me.
And so I struggle. I have definite ideas of what I’d like for her for the next six years before she leaves for college. We only have six years left. I say this to myself over and over. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to become complacent in my every day life and suddenly find that six years have flown by. Because, frankly they already have. If I think back to when she was six it feels like yesterday. And now that I have another child and I’m not home full-time and we’ve moved to a larger city I know that the next six will go even faster.
I’m okay with that. I really am, because I know what it feels like to poke the bear now. I can only imagine what she will be like at 15 and 16. I know that we will have many years apart and then we will gather together when she is older. I look forward to her in ten years. For now, I know that the cuddling, the telling me about her life and the giggles are going to be few and far between over the next six years. This is a lesson for me in itself. It is my job to be here, to open my arms the one time a season she wants to be cuddled, to show her that I’m here no matter what. It’s my job, too, to not take it personally, to give her space and to remember what I was like then.
Luckily, I think we’re a bit more in tune with her than my parents were with me. I know that when she is out of control, and my period is just ending, hers is just about to begin. I try to be gentle as I tell her these weird feelings are hormones and she needs to consider her brother and father a little. I try to let her know that it’s okay to feel everything she’s feeling, but she doesn’t necessarily need to act on them. And as she’s ranting, giving me the silent treatment or just glaring I try to remember how I would have reacted to that kind of information when I was her age.
Sometimes my fear rises up when I think of her in the next ten years. She will be confronted by so many things I never was. She will have options I never had and not all of them are good. There are drugs out there I never conceived of, people with values that I never contemplated. I have prided myself on teaching her to be strong and independent. Yet, I’ve been known to yell, ‘WHY do we have such independent kids?” And while I love it, it scares me a little.
And then the yoga kicks in. And I remind myself that it’s not my place to direct anyone else’s path. She will come up against what she is supposed to no matter how hard I try to thwart it. She will be confronted by drugs and drinking regardless of what I think about it or try to save her from. She will be pressured, overtly or subliminally to have sex whether I keep her home Friday nights or not.
I have to believe that I’ve done the job I was supposed to and whether she learned the lessons that I hoped she would, she is where she is supposed to be, when she is supposed to be there. This is a really tough concept for some parents, me and especially my mother. I don’t know what will happen to her. I can’t promise that she will make the choices that I’d like for her to, but I do believe that it’s her place to make those choices and not mine. As it was my choice and not my parents. I pray fervently that whatever choices she makes keep her safe and away from harm, but I look to my own life and know that there are a lot of ways to being safe and okay. It’s not always with your family.
Her way may not be mine. In fact, I’m sure of that. And it’s okay. It has to be. We’re all broken, we’re all lost and make stupid choices. If there’s nothing else coming to this point in my life has shown me it’s this. And if she finds the same hurts and disappointments that I have, well at least I’ll have good advice for how to survive and move on. If she gets her own hurts, perhaps I can learn from her.
Our children come to us for a reason. I honestly believe I got my kids to learn from them. Some days I see it so clearly…they are in some ways so like me, showing me myself-holding up that dreaded mirror. And some days they are such a delightful surprise, giving me a glimpse of something I might have been or something I might still embrace. My kids are a gift. I am constantly learning to be a better person, a better yogi and a better parent through them.
And if it weren’t Friday this might be a gratitude post.