What I Learned With Carly Elizabeth at Six Months
I can’t believe it! No, it can’t be true. Impossible! It must be a mistake. Indeed, Carly Elizabeth and I (and of course Z) are six months young today.
What began as a tender ‘first, do no harm’ obsession deepened and expanded into a radiant love affair, a dance of infinitely subtle feelings, gestures, an expressive ebb and flow of shared meaning marked by a palpable urge to evoke safety, trust, happiness and wonder, anticipating what delicious experience will happen next. Every movement she makes is unmistakably intelligent. Not the limited, narrow intelligence we call intellect, rather a keen sense of relationship.
‘Do I trust you?’ If yes, a puppy-pile tug of love ensues, touching, sensing, exploring now, giggling, sleepy, awake. As for Z and I, we marvel at how fast this train is moving. Today, in many ways, is like yesterday, but different. One must watch very carefully or we will miss it. And if we do miss it how will Carly Elizabeth trust the next moment? Like dancing to different music there is a clash of rhythms, assumptions and scuffed toes.
There are three basic forms many of meditation. The first, unwavering attention opens the door to peak-experience, what athletes call the Zone, what every child calls Play. Ideally parenting is a peak-experience. The second form of meditation takes this unwavering attention and applies it to negate all the stupid thoughts, the brain farts, 200,000 or so distracting mental images we create each day.
The source of so much of our travail, this reflexive babble, is turned into a medicine that transforms the dis-ease we inflict on ourselves and others. This antidote plus unwavering attention becomes like a pin popping these thought- bubbles floating in and out of our attention like passing clouds, releasing tremendous energy wasted by these tiny and not so tiny bubbles. And finally, the third form of meditation scoops up this new energy and focuses it like a magic wand transforming everything it touches into wholeness, compassion and joy. Being with Carly Elizabeth is just such a meditation, and if not, I am missing something. But love is like a magnet. It keeps pulling you back, back to what is real.
When this meditation of love pushes aside my selfishness what remains is the deep feeling that it is a great honor and privilege to be Carly’s guide. If I do my job well, deepen my meditation, the world will be a better place because of Carly’s presence, how she sees, feels and acts. There is no guarantee of course. Every snowflake is unique.
So, you see, caring and responding appropriately to Carly’s subtle ques demands that I am more present, more alert, more sensitive and that means intelligent. Caring for Carly is one of the most powerful personal development opportunities I ever get, for each and every moment is a mentoring experience. She is watching and learning from every move I make. If I care, it better be my best. Mediocre is not an option. Where else is the demand to be our best so high, where it matters so much?
There is no such thing as perfect parenting. It is a crap-shoot. The difference that makes the difference however is when parents understand that being a guide demands that they learn new tricks at each age and stage the child passes through. Parenting is a transformation journey for parents just as intense as childhood is a transformation journey for children. Forget the score. The two questions that matter most are; ‘are you having a blast and what are you learning? Parenting is a meditation of love that pushes aside all our selfishness and replaces it with affection and joy.