“The task is to raise yourself into the most awakened and present individual you can be.” ~Shefali Tsabary
The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary has so far proven to be my favorite parenting book. It has changed how I see and interact with JJ.
A bunch of local amazing new moms started a book club (“Books, wine, and babies” – so much fun) and this was our first book. To be honest we didn’t spend much time actually talking about the book, but I got a lot out of reading it and is one I want to keep on the shelves for future reference.
Here are some of my favorite lessons from it:
- Parenting means the death of our old self and the reinvention of our new self.
It’s easy to lose yourself in new motherhood. We aren’t the same as we were, we are now totally consumed by this new being in our life, and we have yet to fully define our new reinvented selves.
“The transition to parenthood is complex, requiring us to surrender to an irrevocable loss of our identify as we have thus far known it. To create the internal space required to embrace the tending of a new spirit, the pillars of our old lifestyle have to crumble. Who we were before becoming a parent doesn’t and cannot exist with the same ferocity. Once children enter our life, their impact is indelible, and we are required to reinvent ourselves in response.”
“I no longer know where you begin and I end. Days and nights blend into a haze of brilliance and fatigue. I am elastic, rubber, and wax. I bend to your will with no resistance, no boundary, transparent like glass. Even when you aren’t with me, I am with you, imagining you. There is no moment in which I exist separate from you.”
“Our identify comes into question as we understand that our life is no longer ours to own, but is betrothed to our child. We watch our heart surge with a protectiveness that’s as invigorating as it’s unfamiliar. We know we aren’t the same women we were pre-birth, but neither have we articulated who we are post-birth. Consequently, we get lost in our role as mothers, giving to our children with the zest and zeal only a woman possesses. In this giving, our sense of self fades, and we find ourselves increasingly alienating from who we intrinsically are. We feel as if we are in a no-man’s land, neither here nor there.”
- Our children are our spiritual partners.
This is not a one-way street where we parents teach our children everything. JJ teaches me a lot, if not more, than I could ever teach him. Because of him I am learning to be more present, more in touch with my emotions, and less selfish.
“Watch a child, especially an infant or toddler, and you will find the secret to living a conscious life. Children naturally inhabit the present moment.”
“Very young children especially are able to reinvent themselves on a moment-by-moment basis. Intrinsically spontaneous, they are unafraid of a fluid way of approaching life, which renders them open to change. They see a flower and top to gaze at it, or notice a cloud and are able to drop what they are doing to admire its shape.”
“It’s through our constant service that our infant affords us access to our spiritual depths. The demands of caring for an infant cause us to dip into our core, where we discover that we do indeed have the capacity to give, serve, and nurture with the intensity required. Thus our infant shows us our ability to transcend our own selfish wishes and become present for another. In this way, infants are reflections of our deeper humanity.”
- You are your child’s mirror.
Our children absorb everything from us, so it’s important to be aware of what we are mirroring back to them. If I’m unhappy or frustrated it is hard for me to be a healthy mirror to JJ.
“Especially in the early years, parents function as mirrors for their children. Consequently, if you are unable to access your joy, you will be unable to be a mirror of your children’s joy.”
“Our children are left feeling that they are the cause of our moods, which results in guilt and can lead to a sense of worthlessness.”
“Children learn how to relate to their experiences from how we relate to our own. When they see us constantly reacting to reality, manifesting ongoing anxiety, they learn to embody such a reactive, anxious mind-set themselves.
“The way a child’s parents burst into laughter or smile only hesitatingly, welcome the rain on their face or run for cover, embrace their fears or cower in shame, invite challenges or succumb to doubt, panic or calmly soothe their infant when it cries – all of this is noted by the infant, who is soaking it in. This is where the bricks and mortar of the infant’s sense of self are laid, and where the parent first forms its identity as a caregiver and nurturer.”
- To teach your children inner abundance, you need to access your own inner abundance.
You must prioritize, find, and access what makes you fulfilled and joyful in order to teach that to your children. Otherwise, you will look to your children to complete you.
“The most profound way in which we can teach our children to access their inner abundance, empowerment, and purpose is if we have accessed our own.”
“When we are connected to a constant flow of fulfillment of our own, we radiate this energy, which serves to ensure our children won’t be used to fill an inner void or in some way complete us.”
“When we don’t look to our children to make us happy, but find our happiness elsewhere, we liberate them to be true to who they are. They are able to bask in our happiness without the burden of being the reason for it. Doing something we love, connecting to our inner being in stillness and solitude, honoring our body by taking care of it on a daily basis through the food we eat, the exercise we engage in, and the way we are at peace with how we look are all ways of teaching our children to value themselves.”
I highly recommend reading it. Here are some other books on our list for future meetings and I’d love to hear about any others you recommend!