D turned one. While D’s progress has always been visible to us, we paused to reflect on our growth as parents. We are particularly proud of our progress. While we occasionally feel exhaustion in our bodies, our hearts feel full and harmonious. Many things have contributed to this fullness and harmony, but I capture the two most important ones in this post.
We have learned to let go.
- Let go of control: We have resisted the urge to impose a routine on her and let her learn to listen to her body and respect its cues.
- Let go of fear: We have become mindful of every time we say ‘no’ and understand the fears from which the ‘no’ is coming. When it is a question of safety, we prefer distraction to denial.
- Let go of assigning meaning: We have also become mindful of labelling and projecting intention to her actions. There is no motive behind her actions and behaviour. She is just acting out of curiosity and learning to form her sense of identity and independence.
- Let go of guilt: We have created space to keep activities that nourish us alive — whether it is Netflix, working out, being in nature, etc. — and not feel guilty about stepping away from work or D. We know we will make mistakes and learn along the way — and do not beat ourselves up.
- Let go of comparisons and norms: Given the information and inspiration overload, we have embraced the truth that our experience as parents is unique. We can be open-minded and still not feel obliged to comply with unsaid standards and expectations of people around us about ‘good parenting’ and ‘good children’.
It is not that we let go perfectly, but we do catch ourselves within the same day on most occasions and course correct. Our daily reflection and feedback ritual helps.
As a result of letting go, we have been more accepting of ourselves and have not put undue pressure on each other. We see every day as a learning opportunity, not a stressful examination.
Savouring the Small Things
We use our daily reflection ritual to induce positivity. We celebrate the small things and express gratitude for them. For example:
- We make it a point to thank each other when someone steps up for child care while the other wraps up work. This prevents us from taking each other for granted.
- We recognise moments with D that give us joy — when she cannot curtail her laughter for something silly — or that give us peace and love — feeling her warm embrace as she sleeps on our shoulder instead of her bed.
- We wake up every morning, reminding ourselves what a gift it is to be alive in this world and, more so, to be alive with the ones we love.
As we have internalised this feeling, we have found it to be the ultimate anchor on the most turbulent days. Savouring helps us be positive instead of fixating on fatigue, frustration and resentment and refuels our mental and emotional energy reserves.
Other Honourable Mentions
- Holding space for the difficult moments with compassion and care
- Connecting the mind-body through walks or workouts
- Spending time in nature regularly
- Seeking help through supportive circles and professionals
If we are not well, then that has a direct impact on our children. We operate from a place of negativity, which is palpable to their curious, observant minds and mirrored in their behaviour. Our traumas can unknowingly trickle down to them. Parenthood can offer us our greatest motivation and an expansive practice ground to embody wellbeing. We only have to accept that wellbeing is necessary and commit to the inner work.
I share this reflection with humility. I recognise how this experience has been made possible because of the support of my partner, family, peers, and colleagues at work. It results from years of building wellbeing practices and the privilege of having the right enabling conditions.
If you are a parent reading this article, it is okay to be wherever you are. We do not raise our children but grow with them at our own pace.