My family lives within walking distance of one of the nicest parks in Buffalo. When the weather is good, we wander over. Today my daughter walked part of the trail with her own two feet, her hands happily in a hand of her parents. She stopped when she saw another small child, getting shy. She’d stop whenever she wanted to watch something. She stopped at one point to sit on the trail, which was not good because it gets a lot of traffic. She does not know park etiquette yet. She just knows that these walks are exciting. There was a large dog that made me nervous, so we wandered up the hill from the water and stopped for a bit. She ran and crawled through the grass, picking wildflowers from the clover, grinning the entire time.
I am approaching the tasks of parenthood with the orientation that my job is to show her how to be alive. My job is to ensure that she knows how to do the basics functions, how to discipline her behaviors as to be a part of society, and most of all, how to enjoy living. My job is to show her how to be loving, how to be discerning, and how to appreciate these brief moments of life. My job is also to protect and care for her.
It has helped me.
In order to show my daughter how to love life, I need to be loving life. If I want to teach her to appreciate the nature, or know how to be loving to others, I need to appreciate nature, and be loving to others. This has been a wonderful spiritual discipline in stopping to smell the roses, admire the sunset, laugh with my husband, and not get lost in my head or caught up in something that is bothering me. If I am to protect her, I need to ensure that I am around to do it, as much as I can be. I am more aware when I make decisions, and I take smarter risks. Having a child has been good practice for my patience and practicing non-attachment to circumstances (though I’m far more attached to my loved ones). I am surprised by which I changed my own practices simply because they seemed like they had a higher calling involved. I worry less about the small details and think more about the big picture. I appreciate this.
My daughter is now more akin to a toddler, and I remember when she was just a tiny babe in my arms, days old. My father told me this would be the case – the first year is the one where the babies change the most. Kiddo spent her first trip to a park, Green Lake Park in Seattle, sleeping on either my or Will’s chest as we laid on picnic blankets with our friends. Now she can pick wildflowers and to give them to her mother. She can lift herself up and take unassisted steps and signal to her daddy that she wants to be held. She has grown so much already. It is incredible to watch.
I have also grown in ways that I did not realize I would. Parenthood is making me a better person. I appreciate that.