Parenting Spirituality

For the first time that I can remember, I went back and read a couple of my posts, specifically about parenting. There is an unnerving gap in not only my own thoughts, but popular culture as a whole, concerning parenting with a comprehensive, inclusive spiritual mindset.

I can’t stomach the establishment religion anymore, so I won’t be making references to such practices as prayer, personal bible study and/or acts of penance. I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to peel off the crusty, fossilized layers of my conservative christian upbringing, and at this point, I am far more interested in spending a Sunday morning playing Uno with my kids than powering through an antiquated, misogynistic sermon that is a mildly fluffier version of one delivered not two weeks prior.

I can say with a relative amount of certainty, that it is most quite possible, even preferable, to raise children, good, loving compassionate children, without the aid (or hinderance, later in life) of religion. That’s not to say that I remain ignorant of spiritual practices and activities that make my family and myself better people. We take many liberties in poaching practices from the wealth of knowledge in spiritual practice throughout the world. So, contrary to the argument I regularly heard growing up, it’s not enough to just “read the bible” for all moral and spiritual questions, with the footnote; *don’t ask any questions.

In the scope of human history, significant on it’s own merits, yet pathetic on a cosmic scale, there are most certainly moral people who have evolved outside of a religious incubator. I would argue pulling back to gain a larger view in order to absorb more rather than less is exponentially more beneficial.

Quick detour in the never, yet strangely predictable existence that is parenting. While writing about parenting with spirituality, as is most often the case, I’m interrupted, mid thought. “Daddy! Im done!” And I must go wipe my kid’s ass. In all of my parenting fantasies, not once did I think to myself, “I can’t wait to be a dad and stick my face and hands so perilously close to so many steaming piles of shit, produced entirely by the tiny, ever changing, always smelling, growing changing bodies that are inhabited by the minds of my two boys.”

I seem to be building an argument for a rather simple way of being a parent that seems so difficult to actually implement in an actual existence. First, be true. As a parent, I will make a treacherous mess of an alarmingly large number of scenarios throughout my parenting career. The sooner I admit that, the better off we will all be. Second, love the hell out of your kids. As more and more sunrises and sunsets get filed into the appallingly boring history of my own existence, the best I can do for my boys is to love them with such reckless abandon that they have no question of their place in the world, how they can change it and love it back.

Shit, I’m losing my train of thought. Between wiping asses, breaking up fights and pouring cereal, this post seems like a mild case of projectile vomit, starts off with such force, but leaves behind a terrible taste in your cheeks with the added bonus of a sore stomach.

I’ll try again later. I’m pretty sure there’s some good stuff waiting to come out.

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Discipline and lists

Just noticed a rather significant amount of time ha passed since my last entry: September (unless I count the last public post, March. Even more grotesque) yikes! 

Separately, I express myself best in writing. As with any barbed social media post, writing allows me, as well as many others I’m sure, to precisely curate my thoughts in order to paint myself in a more favorable light. Trouble is, the perfect syntax is in no way a true representation of my everyday reality. 

I may come across, at times, in my witing as one who is fairly well spoken, clear and concise. When in person, staring into they eyes of another person, I’m just as regular as the next bloke, fumbling for words, sweating profusely and largely unaware of the direction of the conversation I’m engaged in beyond the next couple words. 

That’s not to say I don’t have options about life, parenting, politics, cycling, meditation, gluten free foods and the like, I just have a mental block when trying to express those options and build coherent arguments on the fly, with another human being’s gaze leading me to believe they are waiting to pounce on any holes in my argument like a lioness on the Serengeti. 

I guess that’s where one should exercise discipline and as many authors and spiritual teachers have said, “do hard things,” and face head on the very things that trip me up. 

Until I get that nailed down, here is a list of other topics I aim to pen some thoughts about in the near future:

The #metoo social media campaign. (Spoiler alert. My feelings in short: men, quit thinking and speaking with your dicks. You well know if you’ve violated a woman’s body, admit it! When your answer is exactly the same as every other dudes answer, it seems pretty obvious to me that the ladies aren’t “fishing for publicity.”)

Parenting. As in, the real stuff my wife and I and our friends screw up every day in regards to our kids. 

Meditation/spirituality. Not the bullshit perpetuated by organized religion, but the real life, how the hell do I meditate when I’ve got a lego jammed up my ass from the tornado that is my living room, with my kids fighting about food and who stole who’s Pokémon cards? And, how does one square conservative politics with religion, Christianity specifically in the US?

Art. Likely a lament on the fact that I just don’t make time to create like I used to. 

That should keep me going for a while. A couple of those streams will more than certainly lead to a river, or to steal the far too often used metaphor, open up a can of worms. Should be fun, or at the very least cathartic and in the mean time, move me toward, or at the very least in the general direction of, that other title thought, discipline. 

Spilling the beans

My wife and I have been on quite a long spiritual journey that has, so far, brought us to our current space via a pretty rough road. We both were raised in gerally fundamentalist, evangelical homes in which our particular religious sect was right in God’s eyes, thus we’d cornered the market. 

Long story short, my wife is far more spiritually and mystically open because she has actually spent a significant amount of time reading, practicing yoga and meditation and largely preparing herself for divine encounters. Me on the other hand, I’ve chosen a much slower evolutionary path that is essentially, “I don’t want to invest that much intellectual and mental capital, so I’ll just punch the cruise button and fall asleep for 3 or 4 years. 

Now, I’m starting to come out of my self induced bout of ignorance and have really found the spiritual practices my wife has been apart of to be extremely valuable. Not just for myself, but in creating a deep sense of love and compassion in my cold heart for the community and world around me. Thankfully my wife has been massively supportive as I floundered around her intentionality for the past four years. We’ve always kept open the lines of communication which has proved to be an asset that we will continually invest in. 

Something has recently come up in our discussions, though, about how we maintain familial relationships with people to whom we view the world quite differently, especially when it comes to matters of our understanding of Creator/God/Wisdom/Universe, (however we choose to describe the ground of being) and how that…thing… interacts/interacted with the world in new or old, measurable or mystic, real or imagined ways. We have a fear that when and if we spill the beans about what we really believe about those things which they hold so tightly as foundational to their very existence, they’ll just cut us off completely, which is most certainly not something we are interested in. Nor are we interested in causing a crisis of faith for those family members. But it seems like we are approaching a tipping point where we aren’t able to as easily sit quietly and disagree. 

Our silence will likely continue for the time being as we haven’t come up with a good way to open that can… However, something I was thinking about this morning gave me a little bit of pause. Am I taking myself too seriously? Where’s the humor? Is there really not room for both of our viewpoints at the same table? Why does it have to be either we tell them and we’re cut off, or we don’t tell them and we’re miserable?

Again, middle ground. There has to be a place where we exist that isn’t concerned about the poles. Why must we choose to be separated? Of course we will disagree, on a great number of things I imagine, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still eat together, vacation together and let our kids play Star Wars together, right?

I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but I feel like something good is brewing, so I’ll take some intentional time to let it simmer. 

Ignorance is…

I never understood quite what the phrase “ignorance is bliss” meant until I’d hurdled around the sun 20 or so times on this little blue ball we call earth. 

Even then, in my early 20’s, I think I assumed ignorance meant a lack of knowing details of sorts, that might cause worry or concern. My mother always used the phrase in the context of health or politics. “Ignorance is bliss,” she would say… “If I don’t go to the doctor and find out what this lump is, I don’t have to worry about it.” Or, “if I choose not to uncover the causes for suffering in the world, I won’t suffer as much.”

These are paraphrases of my early childhood, but they never sat well with me. Most would agree that suffering is part of the human condition, but one must not turn a blind eye or refuse to accept the part it plays for us. If we choose not to enter into suffering, that’s not really a defendable position for ignorance being bliss. That seems more to me to be an unfortunate choice not to engage with humanity. 

Healthcare… that’s an entirely different story. I’m not sure I can tell another person their methods for self care are flawed, at least not unsolicited. But I am the kind of person who would rather have all the details and make plans from there. 

However, I do think there are times when a bit of conscious ignorance is quite helpful. For instance, the current presidential administration. If I were to continue in my addiction to NPR (as unbiased as it is… or so we like to tell ourselves) I could not be present and, for example, enjoy my four year old’s birthday, because I’m might end up being too worried about the possibility that he won’t even have a place to live when he’s my age. 

Sometimes then, I will choose ignorance, I will choose when and where to consume news so that I can be here, in this moment, enjoying the peace of a lunch break and the view of the snow covered mountains not ten miles from my home. 

I don’t know what’s to come of this current administration, and if I’m honest, I’m pretty skeptical about the good that will come of it. I am not however going to be paralyzed by my fear of possibilities. I must make a conscious, deliberate, intentional decision to live in this moment with my two amazing boys and fantastically loving and compassionate wife. 

So, am I ignorant? When it brings me into this moment to love more fully and engage more authentically, absolutely.