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Aside from meeting a new and wonderful baby, the person, I was delighted and surprised to find that becoming a parent has offered (at least) three special, hidden and life-changing gifts:

  1. Profound impetus for self improvement. Contrary to parenting advice (freely offered from tv, magazines, books, relatives and strangers) modeling still wins out for me as the most effective means of teaching. I try my darndest to be the person I want my child to be. In spite of limiting sweets, enforcing a bedtime, telling a child to talk nicely and stop hitting, if there is a double standard it manages to undermine the best laid plans of any well meaning parent. The most effective way for me to convince my children to be that mentally and physically fit person of integrity with high moral standards and a positive outlook, is just to be that person (gulp). This automatic (and relatively sudden) promotion to the big leagues makes it really clear what needs to be done. 
  2. Unavoidable appreciation for life’s pleasures. Try though you may to have an agenda or any realm of control, as Alfie Kohn put it, you can’t force anyone to go to sleep or respect you. (I also find it very difficult to convince others to blindly go along with my schedule and accomodate my personal needs). When I finally decided not to let this squash me, the resultant surrender blossomed into a mindset that was certainly more flexible and only held on to the essentials. Days are spent (good ones anyway) in the mindful process of observing human growth at its most elemental level, things I would otherwise overlook, a child’s understanding of a word, a new sound, the way they hold their hand. The practice of connecting with each other to stay in the well space. And those things that I did let go of – finishing my sentence, fancy dinners out, clean desk space, 10 minutes of silence- are ever so much more intense, beautiful and enjoyable when they happen by.
  3. Mama-love xray vision. This is my favorite. Included in the mamakit, came a seamless and fluid ability to look at anyone and see through to the child that they once were, as if I were to flip a switch and superpower vision can turn anyone to the innocent hopeful baby that they once were. In social occasions when I find myself critical of others, in work situations when I am blaming I simply put on my xray eyes and there before me is the child as he or she was the day before they learned whatever behavior is so bothersome to me. I no longer want to fight. I used to fear children, particularly teens. It may have resulted in an uncomfortable “so what grade are you in?” conversations or  me crossing the street upon spotting a group of teens approaching. All of a sudden now I’m Mama with new “mama clarity”. I could be anyone’s mama. I can now walk up to anyone and channel that mamaness rather than the old fear. My prejudices and fears become apparent in this light. Is this a criminal, a grouch, a shifty scoundrel? No this is that sweet little baby! I have on several instances seen people, noticeably and publicly suffering, and my desire is no longer to turn a head but to say something like, “I’m not your mama, but I’m somebody’s mama and it breaks my heart to see you this way.”

 Parents, what else am I missing? Did any of you find these gifts in your package as well?


2 Responses to “Parenting”

  1. santiando Says:

    no habia leido esto antes! wow! si, he encontrado estos regalos en la maternidad entre otros varios. El ultimo, ese de ver a todos los humanos como el hijo/a de alguien ha sido increible, ha sido transformador y conciliador! algunos otros regalos:
    1) que soy fuerte, mas de lo que creía y no fisicamente.
    2) que tengo mucho amor, muchisimo!

    que alegria encontrarme con esto esta mañana!

  2. Kristen Says:

    Thank you for the other two- (personal strength and awareness of profound love)- you know what I’m talking about!

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