Release the blueprint
Embrace the slings and arrows of imperfect parenthood, rather than become overwhelmed by how things ‘should’ be. By Kerry Curson
Like many things we face in our lives, parenthood can bring with it a lot of pre-conceptions, and even traditional stereotyping. For some, the pictures of our children are painted long before they are even conceived. Perhaps your dream includes the flowery frills that will drape your perfect doll-like little girl. Or how your boy will be the perfect gentleman. Or simply wild, free and happy hearts ready to romp and climb and explore this beautiful planet we inhabit.
Whatever your ambitions and expectations of parenthood, there is an image attached to this in your mind. Images about a future you hope to create. From cooing family members, to total chaos, personality traits and hobbies that you anticipate; these pictures have been pre-painted based naturally on our own life experiences, hopes and dreams. We can consider these pictures a kind of blueprint of our life.
It is normal for us all to have such blueprints. However, when they become very fixed within our mind’s eye, we cannot help but go on to compare our reality with these preconceived images. This can be a recipe for unnecessary stress and disappointment. If you are filled with only beautiful expectations it can be a shock to the system the first time you experience a public meltdown with your little one, or they display a behaviour you don’t approve of. You may find a sense of panic when you feel the judging eyes of onlookers boring into your skin, or even judge yourself for all of the things that are out of your control. Especially as most of us dream of being the greatest parent that ever lived right? That’s really where the blueprint issue lies. It tricks us into thinking we can control every outcome in order to paint that perfect picture. Sometimes this goes to plan, but a lot of the time it does not – especially when you throw a child full of free will and bubbling, evolving thoughts and emotions into the mix.
Instead of comparing reality with our perfect blueprint, the work should be on letting go of all preconceptions and allowing yourself to fall into the flow of all that unfolds. If you are able to look at challenges and stumbling blocks as opportunities for personal growth, to allow yourself to experience all the flavours while letting go of the need to control it, you will find a much deeper sense of contentment and peace.
To try to control all outcomes is like swimming against the ocean’s current; it will always feel an incredible challenge requiring constant effort (“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf,” famously noted Jon Kabat-Zinn).
Becoming content with all that is will give you a greater sense of peace and gratitude for your life and your children.But how do we let go of these blueprints? It can be easier said than done. Just as we do on the yoga mat, it all starts with awareness. Observing when feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment or any negative emotion arise. Question it. Notice if it is routed within the rose-tinted lens of perception. When you notice that it is, ask yourself whether you are in control of the situation, or does it rely upon another human being’s free will (i.e. children)? If so, then it is important to remind yourself that you cannot control another person – of any age. You can’t control their reactions to you or the world around them. It is your job to try to learn from your child in order to best teach them how to navigate the world and their emotions in future – but in the moment you have absolutely no control and often times, neither do children. They are not yet confined to social acceptability, they behave how they feel, they release it all and then let it go – much like we should do a little more…on a smaller scale maybe.
Remind yourself always that parenthood is a learning process, not a postcard. If you feel judged, remind yourself that those judging see a mere snapshot of your day, not the sleepless nights, the cooking, cleaning, shopping, school runs, kisses and cuddles. Be who you are despite the onlookers and the whirling photos in your head, be patient with the process and open to all that is. Practicing a gratitude meditation will help you always keep your life’s blessings at the forefront of your mind. Relax when you can. You’re doing a great job.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.