Many people probably feel as I did when I had my first child: How can I possibly be a mother? I’m still my mother’s child! But my baby was born and there I was, hugging as I wanted to be hugged, loving as I wanted to be loved. I felt the same when I became a grandmother for the first time. Sure, I’d been a parent, but I was still my grandmothers’ granddaughter. The babies came, first twin boys, two weeks later a granddaughter, then another girl and another boy, and I kept hugging them as I wanted my grandparents to hug me, loving them as I wanted to be loved.
In my youth I had no experience with babies, never babysat or wanted to. By pure luck I got an education scholarship which I paid back by teaching in the public school system. My studies, followed by five years of teaching and a master’s in Early Childhood Education, taught me the enormous responsibility of preparing a new soul for life. But they didn’t automatically prepare me for parenthood.
This past July I posted a piece titled “Conscious Parenting” about how the way we were parented unconsciously influences our own parenting (and grandparenting). For example, some people habitually copy dysfunctional parental behaviors without realizing it. Others see their parents’ flaws and try to make amends by raising their children differently without seeing how they sometimes err in the opposite direction. Still others treat their children as possessions whose reason for being is to satisfy their parents’ needs.
I believe, no, I know, that no job is more important, no role more vital to the future of our world, than parenting. When I became a mother at 27 I took this job very seriously indeed. My high standards and constant awareness of the disconnect between my ideals and the day-to-day reality of my inner thoughts and outer behavior made this the most difficult, gut-wrenching job I’d ever had, and I often despaired at my maternal limitations. Fortunately, my education and teaching experience coupled with my determination to do my best enabled me to be a good enough mother. Now I can honestly say being a parent is also the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.
I’m convinced that the combination of 1) raising and educating our children with conscious, loving intention, 2) working to protect their and their children’s future, and 3) knowing how our own shadows get in the way is the solution to global problems. I just wish I knew how to show our legislators their shadows. The majority of our Florida politicians seem unable to hug our educational system as they wanted to be hugged, love and protect our children and planet as they wanted to be loved and protected. Their voting records say it all: their personal biases and religious agendas take precedence over the welfare of future generations.
Like most parents, we began investing in our grandchildren’s futures long before they were born. Now they attend a school which likewise prioritizes children’s well-being, parental involvement, intergenerational communication and shared responsibility for each other and our Mother Earth. For instance, every fall the third-graders write a journal entry describing the most beautiful place in nature they can imagine and the parents respond to them in warmly affirming letters.
Since I forgot to mention or celebrate Grandparent’s Day this year (it fell on Sept.11th), I’d like to devote my next two posts to the stories our twin grandsons wrote and the responses of their parents. I suspect their words will demonstrate the benefits of investing in the future of our children and planet far better than anything I could write.