Parent Space

Welcome to The Parent Space where I will periodically post some of my thoughts and practices around parenting and my work with children. My writings will be part of a future publication about parenting and working with children from a Process-oriented perspective.

Parenting as a Path

Recently a friend said to me "parenting is creative for you." After witnessing my son throw a major fit she noticed that I met the experience with curiosity and creativity. I was touched by her comment and it got me thinking. It's true, I feel at ease and excited by parenting. Not much fazes me. I take parenting as a creative challenge. Each day life unfolds. What will I be met with? What interactions am I called to have with my child? What disturbs me in the world and what do I want to make better for my son and others?

Parent SpaceI have come to see parenting as an exciting and creative task, just as I see my professional career. When I am challenged by power struggles, temper tantrums, my own fatigue or limitations, something inside of me searches to respond and interact in the most creative and meaningful way with my son. I am truly inspired to be his mother.

This has led me to think more about the path of parenthood. People have children for many reasons, not the least of which is to create the feeling of home and security. Many of us have children without thinking much about it. However, parenting is a path, a calling. Each of us has a different path created by our dreams, longings, intentions, and the great mystery of life.

I didn't begin to consider having a child until I was 38. My dream life was full of babies. I would look into their eyes and see the universe. Night after night these divine beings flooded my dreamtime, filling me with bliss and deep joy. In the daytime, children also preoccupied me. The world suddenly seemed full of children! Had I not noticed them before?

Being a psychotherapist, I wondered how would I know if I was meant to actually give birth to a baby or if the babies I dreamt of were just symbolic of new experiences and parts of myself being born. What was my path?

My dreams continued. Insistent. Even though I embraced the symbol of the baby and opened up to new experiences in myself, I kept dreaming of a baby who was mine. My son. When I looked into his eyes I felt as if I was looking into a sky of stars, an infinite world too compelling to deny. A great spirit was calling me.

The pull from the dream world was strong, a feeling I could no longer deny, and with that view something relaxed inside of me. Yet I wondered how I would have a baby and still have my work, my creative interests, and my intimate relationship. It was hard to imagine the everyday world of parenting. I felt like many potential parents I had worked with who came to this life-altering juncture. How would I address this very real conflict brewing inside of me?

It was a dream that brought these different parts of myself together and showed me a possible path. I dreamt that a 40 year-old political woman was on the Oprah show. She was singing a love song. She jutted her belly forward as she sang, making sure that the audience could see her pregnant belly. I was in the audience and was very moved by her love song and inspired by her pregnancy. At that moment, I said to myself, "If she could do it, I could too."

The dream gave me another dimension to my calling as a mother and resolved my fears. The spiritual call had made itself clear to me; however, now I realized that it was also a political act to have a child. In my case, my child would have two mothers. The societal implications added another dimension. As a potential mother, I would be standing for love in all of its mystery, just as the very public singer in my dream demonstrated. My dream revealed that bringing love forward is a political act.

Understanding my dream put me in touch with a deeper calling on my path to motherhood. I felt that motherhood would strengthen, not jeopardize my connection to the world, and give me greater purpose and direction. And the fact that the woman in my dream was a singer indicated that there was something creative in motherhood that I would share with the world.

Many years later, I am still unfolding this dream. As each day goes by I feel incredibly inspired by my path of mothering my son. The depth of feeling and love that has been brought forth has totally transformed me to the core. I have been creative in ways that I couldn't have predicted. I feel absolutely challenged and excited in our day-to-day exchanges and I am newly inspired in my work as I focus more on children, families and parenting. Additionally, the world is a dynamic place for social action; raising a child is like raising a world.

Being connected with our path, the deeper dreams and purpose behind what we do, makes life meaningful. Many of us are not meant to parent and need support in a culture that strongly values having children. All paths are unique and valuable. Those of us who do parent children will find that when we are connected to the source of inspiration on our path, even trouble can become exciting. Each challenge is a moment to discover something new that our sacred path bestows upon us.

 

Op-Ed

Check out Dawn's op-ed piece, Bullying: Whose kids do such cruel things? Ours, published in the Oregonian.

read the article