Spiritual Growth As A Parent: Yes, It's Possible!
When I was a soon-to-be mom, I heard a lot about the stuff I'd be saying goodbye to once Phi arrived. I heard I'd never sleep, eat food that wasn't cold, or take a long shower again. More than once, I was discouraged from continuing to pursue my goals, at least for a year or two. That may be the subject for another post.
There's something else people said that sort of freaked me out. A few times, I was told that my spiritual growth would have to pause when I became a mom. Even though I doubted this even when I heard it, the fact that I heard it in the first place points to the fact that I was a little bit afraid that it would happen. After all, so many of the practices I've gotten into over the years relied on time and quiet, both of which were about to become luxuries.
On the other hand, I knew it couldn't be true. When I told my yoga teacher I was pregnant, she told me that describing the love I would feel for my child was like describing the taste of a banana; it's impossible. Three years later, I'm sure she's right. I can't find words to describe the love I have for my daughter, but I know that the way I love her has opened my heart, allowing me to give and receive love more freely than I could before. Love like that doesn't halt spiritual growth; it fuels it.
When we become parents, the processes we use for spiritual growth might change but the progress continues. My advice? Lean into the changes.
Embrace the chaos
Here's my struggle: I tend to think I need a quiet, decluttered space to meditate or write or do some journeying or whatever. I'm often trapped by the belief that I need to cross every item off my to-do list before I allow myself one moment of peace. I'll do everything for the people around me—namely the one person who needs me the most—and maybe I'll take a second for myself when finish taking care of other people.
This is backwards. When there are always about 10,000 things on my list, that quiet time to meditate in a decluttered space with a clean email inbox might not come until my almost-preschooler heads off to college.
The busier life gets, the more I realize it's not about crossing every item off my to-do-list and then allowing myself peace; it's about recognizing that during every chapter (even the busy ones), we're meant to experience the joy of being alive—even if the sink is full of dishes.
In practice, that might mean meditating with the ambient sounds of Sophia the First in the background. Now that it's nice out, it means taking a long bike ride with my perfect little girl and without my phone, talking about the birds we see along the way. It means writing in my journal even when Phi won't go to bed. Lately, that means she writes in little notebooks before she goes to bed, too.
...but do make some time to connect with and learn from other people
On a day to day basis, finding the bliss within the chaos works for me, but blocking off some adults-only time to learn and recharge helps tremendously. There's a farm near my house in Connecticut where various healers teach workshops, and I keep an eye on the schedule. When I'm able to make pretty much anything there, I go. The tools I've learned there have been more useful that I can describe, and I've met people who inspire me to think outside of the bounds of the collective dream we call "reality."
If you're looking for something similar, look up what kinds of workshops are happening at local yoga studios, or look for meditation classes. In every area, there are plenty of spiritually curious people who will welcome you into their circles.
I find that after I participate in gatherings of people committed to love, I feel recharged. I'm more able to act from a place of love.
Because I'm forging a less-than-traditional spiritual path, especially compared to my religion-infused childhood, it's sometimes unclear to me how to involve Phi in my spiritual life. At home, I let her play with my tarot cards and runes. I make the crystals she loves accessible to her, and I probably buy her new ones too often. I teach her about the healing power of plants. As much as I can, I bring her around the spiritually open-minded groups of women I like to hang out with.
In the almost-three years since I had Phi, I've had some of the most incredible spiritual experiences of my life. In my experience, it's not just possible to grow spiritually during early motherhood; the love that Phi brings into my life has been a catalyst for even more growth.