When my son was about 3 ½ years old, he officially became my resident Zen master.
This all happened within the context of a perfectly normal day without any ceremony or pomp while I was failing miserably at getting him ready for his pre-school. I had a whole ‘to-do’ list in my head- I had to get to work, my son had to get to school, and there was so much I had to get done…I simply did not have time for this!
But my son had a completely different agenda – playing with his toy garage and cars.
As the clock ticked away, my anxiety level grew. The faster I tried to move, the more resistant he became.
Then, he suddenly looked up from his play, his eyes steadily holding my gaze.
“Mama, you just need to relax. Let’s stay home today.” he announced calmly with complete confidence, clarity and conviction.
I felt myself sink into the chair near his bed with his school clothes still in my hands. All my plans and agendas for the day melted away. As I allowed myself to feel my fatigue, juggling being a single mom and solo pediatrician, my mind’s frenetic pace grinded down to a halt.
With his perception and honesty, my young son saw straight through my external ‘I-am-the-mother-and-I-am-in-charge’ demeanor to the heart of the matter. With his wise words, he helped me realize how fatigued I really was and how much rest I really needed.
A day off was exactly what the doctor ordered and after a phone call to my assistant at work- that is exactly what we both enjoyed 🙂
Eventually, I realized that the daycare we were using was not the right fit for him and we found a Montessori school that he absolutely loved. He would attend this school for the next four years, eager to go, never wanting to miss a day.
My son helped me to see my whole experience of parenting in a completely different light. Instead of thinking that I was in charge, I began to really listen to him and realized that he was actually closer to the present moment. His presence became a way for me to more fully connect with the present and slowly relinquish ‘my way’ which usually was based on preconceptions, expectations, and all sorts of fanciful notions about what our day should look like or what should or should not be happening in any given situation. I began to not only parent with more reflection and mindfulness, but parenting became part of my spiritual path- with the goal being inner peace. This approach fundamentally shifted our relationship and continues to be my guiding light as we now negotiate his teenage years 🙂
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, writer, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh often writes about children and states that whenever he holds the hand of a child, he receives the gift of freshness. And isn’t the goal of every spiritual tradition to bring us fully into the present moment- to fully perceive what is before us clearly, openly and with love so we may respond in a way that is most helpful?
In Parenting for Inner Peace I look forward to sharing different tools, stories and ideas to shift your relationship with the children in your life so you too may see them as amazing wise masters leading us to be present, honest, and transparent. I also look forward to sharing interviews with parents who faced challenging situations with their children and yet still managed to discover joy, love and inner peace.
If you have a Parenting for Inner Peace story to share, please write to us. We would love to hear from you!