Friday, May 1, 2009

Parenting ... oh so much pathwork

This is not an epiphany. Just saying...

My PathWork is so much about my life as a parent. And parenting offers me rich opportunities to rework my goals, aspirations, and life path.

So often parenting work, and yes, it is a lot of work, makes me question myself. So few tangible rewards. So much required. So many instances when patience was not where it should be. Raised the voice when I should have asked a question. Wondering if I handled the melt-down with compassion? So many times when I could go down the path of beating myself up.

It was one of those weeks. The kids were sick. They stayed home with me. We tested each other. I found myself feeling like a failure as a mother. It lasted a whole day. The feeling comes and goes but rarely does it last a whole day.

But today, there was a gift. A parenting gem:

Azad and Virika are sitting in my lap. We are relaxing on the back porch enjoying the gentle breeze. Virika pounds my chest repeatedly.
Mama: "Virika, be gentle."
Virika continues.
Mama: "Virika, gentle gentle."
Azad: "Do you want mama to die?"
Virika stops. (puzzled): "Die? What die mean?"
Mama is stunned into silence.
Azad: "It's when you leave earth and fly into space forever. And go to a building called the Abha Kingdom."
Virika, "Die? Fly away?"
Mama is still silent. Listening.
Azad, "Do you want mama to go away and never come back?"
Virika, "No."
Azad, "Then don't hit her chest. She may stop breathing and fly away."
Mama sigh. Holds and embraces them both. Kisses on each cheek for Azad.

This is not an epiphany. My PathWork is ALL about growing as a parent. Oh, so much work to do... but oh so many (invisible and intangible) rewards.

How to start living when you feel like you're barely existing?

This is the question of the day. Week. Month. Where did April go? I am glad May is here. Another opportunity to start over perhaps?

When I think back to the past month (and the lack of bloggin' therein), I realize I did more existing and less living. What do I mean by that? I found myself going from day to day with little inspiration, energy or passion. I took care of my responsibilities but I am not sure how much I relished them. I did laundry, prepared meals, nursed sick wee ones, did more laundry, wiped more runny noses, played with the kids, and spent a whole lot of time online. I showed up to work, and for the most part, was present, intuitive, and competent. Sure, we went on some enjoyable outings to the zoo, garden, Earth movie, dinners and parks (for the kids' enjoyment, of course). I turned some to do's into ta da's... Sure. The whole month was not a waste. Certainly not.

At the end of the month, I found myself wondering whether I had done anything to move forward in my life. Did I accomplish anything of value? Did I live my purpose more fully? I ask a lot of questions. I am just asking. Not devaluing what I did. Just asking. And, realizing that there were spurts of living in April. But the overwhelming sense is that I went from day to day without much sense of purpose. I call this barely existing. Not living fully.

So how do I know if I am living? I feel energized. I am optimistic. I feel expanded. I am proactive. I make healthy choices. I value my own talents and strengths. I have an internal sense of validation. I do not need praise or gratitude. I practice self-acceptance. When I am not living fully, I am grumpy, self-doubting, and impatient. I feel stuck and constrained. I fall back into old patterns that do not sustain me. I get little joy from what I would normally love. I begin to be harsh about my limitations and interpret oversights as failures.

I am drawing a useful distinction for myself by asking myself daily, "am I living or merely existing?" I am reminded that a life without passion, joy, and purpose is mere existence. I am definitely not content to settle for day after day of not living fully and truly.

I honestly want to know, if you were to live more fully, what would you be doing more of? What would you do less?