Parenting: A Flavor of Soul Nourishment
Today was a wonderful day that we began by going on a late morning walk with some dear friends in the stunningly beautiful area surrounding our home. It’s pretty danged fabulous to be able to walk out your door and be in open space in less than 10 minutes feeling the freshness of the air and breathing in the green of the hills after the rain. We brought our 9-year-old girls with us; my daughter Meera and my friends’ daughter Talia, who have become quite close.
The girls were initially not so thrilled about taking a walk and as we climbed up the hill they commented, “This is so steep, I can’t believe you didn’t bring any water, when can we stop and is there a bench up there?” Let’s face it — most kids that age don’t love to hike and yet when we got to the “top” they were content to build a fairy house and on the way down they scooted excitedly along doing “a crab walk,” skipping and playing magic number games as we adults walked on slightly ahead engaged in grown up conversation.
As parents we learn to balance indoor time with time in nature. Nature nourishes us like nothing else; I might even call it essential soul nourishment.
Parenting is a wildly mixed bag, and although it stretches me to my edges (like how patient and kind can I continue to be when I’ve asked my daughter to do something numerous times?) and I absolutely love it. I am grateful that by some mystery I have the honor of being a mother.
Mothering is a kind of soul nourishment too.
I was struck by this today as we sat in a local and very well done production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and I looked over at my child in the soft glow of the stage lights as she sat taking in this heartfelt story that portrays the magnificent transformation of Scrooge’s hardened heart into one overflowing with generosity and joy.
I sat there teary-eyed feeling the magic of the powerful storyline and simply stared at my daughter. It’s true I do stare at my child. I stared at the structure of her sweet face and the way her blonde hair caressed it. I stared at the way she was absorbing the transmission of this classic holiday tale; a tale of redemption, of love, of the value of community, of how we impact one another and of the reality that it is never too late to change. I was so glad to be sitting there holding her soft little hand and feeling its slightly damp warmth as it rested in mine.
Parenting asks us to open when our child whines about taking out the trash and complains about how smelly it is, to open to hearing them say, “Oh Mama, I have such needle trauma.” She was referencing the fact that when she asked to get her ears pierced at the age of five we took her to the Blue Lotus tattoo parlor where she had a long thin body-piercing needle run through each ear without any ice or anything to numb the pain — I am not sure what we were thinking since as it turned out it was her first real initiation into physical pain of any real magnitude. Then, “I really loathe needles Mama,” spoken in a tone full of disdain. It amazes me that the same person whose shoe choices include two-inch black ankle boots asks me in the evening, “Mama, can I sleep in your bed with you tonight?” Naturally I answer, “Yes love.” I am open; open to it all.
There are many moments of Grace where it is clear that I am in the right place at the right time and even as I include all the chaos and real problems we are facing in the world I feel a sense of gratitude for my life. I sink into the deep love I feel as I rest on the bed scratching my child’s back under the soft downy covers as she drifts off to sleep to dream the dreams of things to come.
Before long she will take her place in the world as the strong, wise and loving being she is evolving into. Knowing this brings peace to my heart. I exhale deeply knowing that even in my absolute imperfection as a mother I am of service to my beloved child and my soul sings out with resounding joy for the angels to hear.