Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Surrender as a Form of Parenting and of Coming to Terms with Life

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Surrender as a Form of Parenting and of Coming to Terms with Life

Article excerpt

When my first child was born, I was not prepared for what being a parent meant I was ashamed to say it aloud, but there was too much sacrifice involved in this relationship.

Here I was sacrificing to my baby's needs my sleep, uninterrupted meals, time with my husband and time for my own projects. I had this lovely blond baby, and instead of being able to give to him with a generous love, I was selfishly guarding my little claims.

My resistance was making both of us unhappy. I wanted to know how to embrace him fully and not keep him at arm's length, a longing that compelled me to take a journey of a surprisingly spiritual nature.

I became acquainted with a group of young mothers who, in our discussions, often used the word surrender. These mothers were neither drained nor martyrs and were not as resentful as I was. "Surrender," they'd tell me. "Go with the flow. Don't sweat the small stuff."

At first, I didn't get it. I was capable of sacrifice; the concept was part of my religious upbringing, and I had seen it embodied in many of the mothers I knew as a child. But surrender? I didn't want to give in, lose my bit of control! I clung awhile to my fight, feeling angry that one child could change my life so completely.

But finally, tired of the strain of fighting him, I began to practice surrender in little bits, to see whether I could get the hang of it.

On a surprisingly warm day in January, when he wanted to be in the yard, I surrendered my list of "to dos" and spent the day digging holes and making stick villages in the empty flower beds. When he unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper, or removed all the books from the lower two shelves of the bookcase, I surrendered by chuckling (instead of groaning) while we picked it up together.

Slowly, I got the picture. Surrender was about accepting my child as he was, not how I wanted him to be. …

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