I had always hoped I would have children one day. As I got older and was approaching my mid-thirties I had started to give up on the idea that it would happen and felt quite sad about it. I had always been very much caught up in the ideal or need of having children and there was a big void in my life, something missing that I felt perhaps children could fill up or distract me from.
I can hardly credit it now but I had some very different ideas back then about what having a baby meant:
• That I could have a little person who would love me and I could love back,
• That I would be classified as a successful woman by having had a child and hold my head high in society,
• That I would be accepted even more in my family for producing a grandchild or niece/nephew,
• That I could fulfill the criteria of having a child before time ran out,
• That having a baby would complete me in some way or give added purpose to life,
• That it would appease the sadness/emptiness I was in.
Once I met my husband and we had our two children, it did not take me long to feel that all that stuff I had been feeling was false.
Whilst on the outside it looked like I was doing well, I realised I had been living my life incomplete within myself but I hadn’t been totally honest about it. There was a big part of me that felt empty and needy which I had not fully admitted to myself before.
I now knew that having children was not going to make this go away.
I would have to make the choice to fill the void by learning to love and nurture myself and to not expect my husband and children to do it for me. In fact, the unspoken demand that a man or child should fill up my emptiness was incredibly irresponsible; an outrageous burden to be placed on anyone, let alone a child.
What about simply wanting to bring a child into the world because you know that you can offer a foundation of love to that child to help it grow and evolve as a human being, without the need to be loved back or to get recognition for it?
To get to this point however, I had to get to a level of self-acceptance first and a deep appreciation for my own unique loving expression. I knew I couldn’t really offer a foundation of love to a child when my body was still rigid with deeply held hurts, resentments, sadness and emptiness.
I have now healed many of the hurts that have kept me locked within the self-perception of feeling less or not good enough which caused the emptiness I had felt and had left me feeling in constant tension. I am much more aware of how I have tried to control life and I am learning to let go of the false masks I have worn. I have done all of this not only for myself, but also in the knowledge that the quality I own in my body has its impact on those all around me, especially my beautiful children who share my life and home.
As my children have grown, now aged 5 and 7, I have noticed a huge shift within myself as I have become more committed to me and to life. I certainly do not see my children in any capacity of having to serve out any of my needs or to confirm me in any way. This is something I am committed to owning – to honestly feel what is going on for me and to work out where the gaps in love are for myself and where my negative choices have the potential to keep playing out.
This huge shift has come about with the support of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine. With my increasing awareness of what the different tensions in my body have been/are about, and a deep inner knowing that how I was living my life was far from the potential of the love that is within me that is natural to express, I have learnt to sift through my un-communicated feelings, articulate them and am letting them go – one by one.
The love I now hold myself in translates to the quality in which I hold my children and this is something that will continue to evolve and deepen.
So now I have seen that having children is a great opportunity to:
• Know when to step in and take a step back,
• Hold myself steady when they lose it or make some daft choices so that they don’t feel belittled or less,
• Appreciate the joy in our loving connection and in their developing expression in the world,
• Support them to connect with their inner wisdom and encourage them to make their own choices by allowing them to feel the consequences of their mistakes,
• Hold them more deeply in love and just observe – in this space they see for themselves whether the choices they make are loving or not,
• Hand trust in themselves back to them so they are not needy of anything from outside,
• Support them to understand what they need to work on and/or let go of, to be the greater love that they naturally are,
• Know that their worth and utter amazingness is in who they are and not in what they do.
Being a parent has many challenges, but when I am able to behold my children in true love, not the emotional, needy love we are so used to, a beautiful tender quality is created, giving them the space and opportunity to rise up to it – lovingly so.
I often talk with my children about the quality of being we choose in every moment and that we are equal in this. I encourage my children to articulate when they feel I have gone hard, the quality that is opposite to love. When they express themselves without any reaction I feel truly blessed and held.
I am so full of appreciation and love for the fact that they are choosing to express the truth they are feeling – saying it as it is. My learning has supported theirs and they in turn support me again.
After all I have learned, observed, felt and experienced, I see my role as a parent very much one of supporting my children to know who they are, to love and appreciate themselves in full for all the amazingness that they individually bring, whilst supporting them to take responsibility for their choices and to be catalysts for true love in a world that sorely needs it.
As a responsible parent I continue to let go of any investment in this particular outcome, freeing up more space for more observation and more love and support – truly getting out of the way and allowing them the freedom to evolve at their own pace.
By Michelle McWaters
Good Parenting Skills
Motherhood & Detachment: an Essential Element to True Love
Allowing others the freedom to evolve at their own pace is everything! You can feel the importance of this for yourself, in that, pushing to be somewhere or something you are not is bound for failure – it’s a set up really. I deeply appreciate all that you have uncovered and shared during such a significant period in life. So many people and parents can relate to the challenges offered and your simplicity with the real opportunity is very inspiring.
I was having a conversation about children recently and the parents were asking how to support their children when they did this or that. and I asked them what was their role when the children were doing this or that and seen to be a problem? As parents and as people surely we need to take responsibility for ourselves first to ensure that we are not contributing to a situation. I find it very sad that we ask our children to be so much more than we are willing to be ourselves. It reminds me of that old adage ‘do as I say not as I do.’
There is a vast difference between imposing rules on children that are founded on ideals and beliefs and boundaries that stem from a love lived. As the adults around them, without the radar of that inner foundation we have nothing left but to come from those ideals and beliefs and this is something our children feel deeply. It is no wonder society is in the mess that it is in as very few of our children are left unimposed upon by those dictates of the mind or confirmed for who they are in all their natural awesomeness. There is also a double whammy because when we shut down our own connection to selves the (often unconscious) pain of this can make us jealous of our children who are still transparently open and joyful. Children learn very quickly to dull this awesomeness in the jealousy of the adults and other children who can’t handle their joy and who seek to put them down and so the whole cycle begins again.
So much parenting is about being emotional love, this love is stagnation love that over times wears everyone involved down.
True love on the other hand is a beholding love with no neediness or cliningness it just is.
If we really took this seriously and parented children as if all were our own and we truly related to everyone on earth as family life would take on true meaning.
It is lovely that you have such honest conversations with your children, and encourage them to speak their truth.
It is not my place that determines the pace in which my children evolve however it is my place to hold steady no matter what, the love that I am.
‘I would have to make the choice to fill the void by learning to love and nurture myself and to not expect my husband and children to do it for me.’ There is such a need and expectation that another will fill a void within ourselves, but when this is not forthcoming our relationships break down because the idealised picture has not been fulfilled. Starting with building a loving relationship with ourselves first is the only true way to go.
Working with children as I do, I come across so many who lack any form of self worth but then use this is an excuse not to step up and even try to work on things they find tricky. I have never met so many kids in the last few years who are so given up on themselves and on life. It is so important that as adults we lead the way, modelling what a healthy relationship with self looks like so that our kids have a reference point of what is possible.
If we bring anything in life, from parenting, work, family life back to purpose then it begins a totally different quality and reason for why and how we do everything we do.
Building a foundation of love and nurturing for ourselves has a knock on effect on all those around us, ‘The love I now hold myself in translates to the quality in which I hold my children and this is something that will continue to evolve and deepen.’
Many people have children to fill an emptiness in their lives, unfortunately this does not address and heal the underlying problem. Being honest with ourselves is the first step in healing, ‘There was a big part of me that felt empty and needy which I had not fully admitted to myself before.’
The role of a parent, for our own children and all children, is to support them in knowing, living and expressing truth.
The purpose of parenting is not commonly recognised or lived in this world. How often do we see parenting as a chore or feel identified by it? There are many ideals and beliefs that comes laced with parenting and they stunt our children’s evolution as well as ours when we fall for these constraints and leave purpose out of the equation.
How refreshing to read the honesty here Michelle -unfortunately many parents unwittingly load their children with all their old hurts and resentment and use the children to fill up the empty void within and often ‘live through them’ pushing for better results, to be the best etc at whatever cost..
“I had to get to a level of self-acceptance first and a deep appreciation for my own unique loving expression. I knew I couldn’t really offer a foundation of love to a child when my body was still rigid with deeply held hurts, resentments, sadness and emptiness.”
Our children will not and should not fill the void in our lives. I love how you discovered this and took the steps to ensure, to the best of your ability, you did not impose that on your children.
When we raise children from a need to be fulfilled, identified or recognised we have missed the true purpose of parenting.
My need for children was similar as you have described, Michelle, to fill up the empty feeling inside and wanting someone to love me, because I didn’t do that. I have experienced different learnings at different ages and most recently with one of my children doing high school exam how big the competition amongst parents is. Almost like their worth is at stake with their child doing exam. I received messages along the line of: ‘mine passed, how about yours?’ We don’t own our children we have the privilege of supporting them to stay the amazing being that they are.
This feels so toxic, doesn’t it? In our emptiness we can often look to our children to confirm our worth, to bolster our sense that we are doing ok because our kids are achieving in school, so we must be getting things right. However do we ever stop and admit to any dysfunction that may be playing out for our kids or for us as a family? Do we get honest about our quality of life and our relationships? If we are not living with joy (and let’s be honest very few of us are) then there is work to be done…
One of the beautiful things about this article is how your children are being given the opportunity to experience a woman returning to herself in amongst life and motherhood, and how inspiring this will be for them. It makes me consider how being a student of life is in fact the same as being the greatest teacher.
‘It makes me consider how being a student of life is in fact the same as being the greatest teacher.’ I love this Shami! Yes – by openly expressing that I am not perfect, that I am learning as I go, my children are getting a sense that there is a certain way we can evolve which they can adopt too. Furthermore, as they are learning so too am I, in how to support them, in understanding how their choices impact the family and the greater community, offering me a reflection for how my choices do the same and how to embrace my responsibility for us as a unit in how we express in society.
True and also how we are all teachers and parents by the way we live and the example we set.
Beautifully said Shami, I love what you’ve shared and we are all students of life and also teachers at the same time, we learn and grow from each other’s reflection.
When we can model that there is no perfection, that as adults we can feel insecure and vulnerable as we are learning, without indulging in it, we give our kids permission to allow themselves to be where they are at and to know that there is no weakness in feeling fragile but that it is an honest marker for how we are truly feeling. In this honesty at both ends, we can feel safe to express those feelings and to support each other in the process. Our kids are just as capable of offering insight and wisdom as we as adults do. I know I totally trust my children and their wisdom and will call on it if needed but without imposition (that’s important). Quite often they will offer it anyway without invitation but that is because we have already established a foundation of equality.
I agree Michelle, when we think we need to have all the answers and have it all together, it’s not only exhausting for us but we also reflect that to our children, which is a huge pressure.
Neither does it allow room for the child to claim their own authority with what they know. Children also have a responsibility to hold themselves in the fullness of who they are, in turn supporting their parents when needed. Just because we are older it doesn’t give the parent a monopoly on what is true. We are all love and we all contain an innate wisdom, my children are just as capable of pulling me up as I am of them and if I present to them that I have all the answers and they don’t, I am simply capping us all.