As I sat on the bus, all scrunched up and knee-slammed, my thoughts turned towards my youngest son. Immediately, a flood of adrenaline squeezed terror through my bloodstream – from belly’s pit to finger tips.
Searching my supposedly smart phone for an answer to my worries only served to panic me further. In no space of time, I was tearing up, about to break into wild sobbing. On. The. Bus. Thankfully, before I made a public spectacle of myself, calm descended; I settled down.
My son is super-bendy, gifted as he is with an extra chromosome that gives him the ability to scratch his head with his toes. The previous evening, as I was feeding him in bed, I heard a disconcertingly loud CRACK! and looked down, only to find his kneecap sitting … well … not quite where a kneecap should.
“Can you come and have a look at this, please!” I called to my husband, stomach churning.
Due to rise for an early morning dash to London, I was on the verge of talking myself out of the whole thing once I heard the bones crunch (and saw them move).
In my wisdom, though, I knew my son was fine.
When I looked closely at him, it was clear that the popping-out kneecap was of no concern. He was cool as. No tears. No fears. There was no evidence of pain. Minor inflammation and redness turned out to be, on closer inspection by torchlight, just my imagination running away with me. My husband concurred that our son was fine, kindly reassured me, and encouraged me to go ahead with my trip.
I settled down, for an unsettled night’s sleep and gave this situation little thought until the bus journey. After my self-induced fright, once the momentum of my thinking slowed, I had pause to give thanks for the illumination. For having the chance to see, once again, that we are not feeling what we think we are feeling, we are feeling what we think.
I was momentarily awe struck by the simplicity and sophistication of a system that dishes up a smorgasbord of thought, each with its own accompanying flavour of feeling brought to life by the gift of awareness (Consciousness).
It is in perfect working order, whether we pick up a delicious or disgusting morsel to feast on.
My fearful thinking had, in a flash, given rise to fearful feelings, replete with the corresponding neurochemical rush. You’ve got to admire a system like that. When I saw that I’d got caught up again, my wheels stopped spinning. I settled down, as is our nature. The climate was then ripe for a sea of clear thinking and fresh ideas to wash over me.
From out of the blue, a quiet voice inside whispered, “just call the physio”. I remembered her saying that, for some people, popping their joints out at will was a prized party piece. Maybe there was nothing to fear after all.
I have come to realise that what helps me most in raising my children is not the stacks of parenting books and magazines, nor the well-meaning advice. It isn’t even a tried and tested talisman that has worked its magic before. Neither lucky outfit, nor spellbinding words. No single routine that works like a charm.
What helps me most is recognising that we each have an intelligent energy running through us that allows us to know what to do and how to do it. Our parenting instinct is inbuilt. We are born to raise young – just like all the other animals in the jungle. The difference between us and them is that the animals just do what they do, no questions asked, no dramatic narrative added.
Our parenting power rests quietly in this presence of Mind.
This infinite creative intelligence behind all living things is the ultimate security blanket. It lets us off the hook, catches us when we’re flailing around, or on our knees. It gifts us with straight up solutions to the toughest parenting challenges. It means that we don’t have to figure things out. There is always this solid ground that we stand on, even when it feels as if the sand is shifting beneath our feet.
Presence of Mind allows us to see our children with Real Eyes. We see the innocence in them. We see the health in them. We see the heart of them. We see all this too, in ourselves. Without a tidal wave of superfluous story swimming around in our heads, it is easier to see the true nature of ourselves and our children.
When we realise that we are all enough as parents, we can trust ourselves. There is real freedom in truly seeing and being seen. We can all, especially our children, feel the difference in connecting in this way. It warms our cockles. Swells our spirit. Helps us grow.
I still stumble around at times, half-asleep, blind to what is in plain sight. I make up compelling tales about why my children are behaving the way they are, then react from that which I have written on the walls of my own mind. It is easy to stop seeing them. It is even easier to fall awake.
“Our thoughts are our guide; a good guide navigates through the maze of life by following the pathway of love and understanding”
Sydney Banks, The Missing Link (p. 105)