My parenting has had to shift a lot over the last few weeks. I’m still cooking and cleaning, I’m encouraging (and sometimes enforcing) good personal hygiene habits among family members, but other things are changing. This change is unsettling to me. I keep having to ask myself — How much śraddha, faith and trust, do I have in the process of being-a-human? When I ask that question, I come to find that I have quite a bit of faith in humanity. But the second, and harder question comes next… Does that trust apply to my children?
My girls want to be in charge of what they do and how they do it. Nora, my 11-year-old, has been sleeping on the floor of her closet for 3 weeks. Hazel, 16, died her hair bright blue and cut bangs. She wanted to cut herself a “modern-mullet” but thought better of it just before scissors went to the back of her head. Both kids want to wake up when they are ready and do school work at their own pace. They carry their laptops all over the house and into the back yard. They want to eat gross snacks. They want to dance instead of cleaning the kitchen. And when they talk to me, they don’t want advice. They want me to listen to the ideas that are bumping around in their minds and to give them the space and the time to work things out on their own.
I can’t say that I love all of the choices the girls make, but when I ask these questions about belief and faith, the śraddha is there. Hazel and Nora are capable of doing their school work and if they forget something, it’s going to be okay. It’s okay to sleep in a closet for a few weeks. It’s okay to have a dance party instead of doing the dishes. It’s also okay not to explain all the ways they could navigate the challenges they face. I don’t have to say all the things that I may want to share with my kids. They don’t need me to teach right now. They need to learn for themselves.
These days, a super-important part of my yoga practice is listening to my girls without my phone in my hands or an agenda in my back pocket. I see that the more I listen to them, the more space they have to figure out what their own inner voice is saying. There are lots of impulses and identities that drive a tween’s and teenager’s decision making, and it isn’t always the voice of intuition or true-self that wins the debate, but sorting through those voices is part of the process of being human. I really need to remember that because if I can, then my girls are going to come out of this pandemic knowing more about how they feel when they eat a bag of flamin’ hot chips or forget a school assignment. The songs and the drawings will be of their own inspiration. They will feel their own śraddha growing as they learn to trust the still, quiet voice within each of themselves.