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The Mother Magazine, Editorial

Issue 48, Sep/Oct 2011

The Dusty Attic, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

I was an avid reader as a young child, and still am, as evidenced by shelves and baskets full of books and magazines around our home. Some of the stories in childhood inevitably involved an attic which the character would explore, finding all sorts of treasure beneath the dust and cobwebs. This always intrigued and excited me, as I lived in a home which had neither an attic nor a basement. There were no secret, magical or forbidden places for me to explore ~ except my mother’s wardrobe at Christmas time!

The attic reminds me so much of parenting. We come into it full of excitement for the treasures which await. What will we find? We’ve no idea that the legacy of some ancestral pattern will come to haunt us and challenge the very fibre of our being. We’ve no idea...because no one tells us that when we become a parent we’re not a blank slate! Oh, no, we come into parenting ~ as we came into life ~ with at least seven generations’ worth of beliefs and experiences (from both sides of the family line) engraved into our belief system. Is it any wonder we keep repeating family patterns?

Ah yes, the attic. Dark, dusty and full of ‘stuff’. Why do we put things into the attic? Because we don’t need them? Or perhaps they have some sort of value and we’re too afraid to let them go. Sentimentality can strangle and suffocate. Surely if there were important things to keep they’d be in the living space to be used or admired? While we have stuff stored in the attic we’ve got things hanging over us, literally or psychologically.

When the first rays of light come into the attic we see, often for the first time, the dust that’s all around us. The light shows us things that we could never possibly have seen otherwise. And so, we either invite more light in or remain in the dark. At first, it’s terrifying to see just how blind we may have been. Yet, if we’re brave enough ~ even if it’s just ‘brave enough for the children’ ~ then we can inch our way forward. Baby step by baby step, we have the power to make positive change in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. Just as someone may have modelled another way for you, at some point you may be a model or mentor for another parent who is fumbling about in the dark attic. Be gentle with them, and remember your own journey, and how you may have been blessed when someone showed you that you could follow your heart, intuition, and instinct.

It’s often said that there’s never been a golden age of parenting, and indeed, any study into child-raising in history makes very grim reading. What about now? Let’s make this the golden age.

Our children need us to aim high; need us to be conscious; need us to be the grown-ups ~ the ones who say sorry, the ones who know that every moment is a new one in which we can start again.

Lazy attitudes to conscious, connected parenting won’t lead us to the golden age, or out of the attic, but I know deep in my heart, that if ever there was a time for us to move forward, to surrender ourselves to the glorious possibilities within us and our children, it is now. Actions always speak louder than words.

Letting light into the attic means you’ll start to question everything about your life, the lives of others, and cultural values. It’s impossible to become anything other than authentic once the light floods in. This way of living invites you to look closely at how you emotionally and spiritually hold your children. What sort of vessel are you? Light means recognising the fundamental biological needs our babies and children have, and not making excuses for why we don’t meet them. If it all sounds like hard work, that’s because it is if we keep resisting it, and deny the truth of what gentle parenting means. When you see the truth, you have a choice: walk into it and surrender, or run away and pretend it’s not real.

I have moments when I recall times when I could have done better, and my heart sinks. I can’t bring those times back and rewrite them. There is only this moment. Only now, when I can recognise that I don’t have to live in the dark attic.

So what do we do about the dark and dusty attic? My suggestion is to get on in there, turn the light on, clean it up, and get rid of everything which doesn’t serve you or bring you love and joy, especially the ancestral legacies. They had their lives, and this is yours.

The characters in my childhood books were all looking for the same thing as we are: to find meaning in our treasures, and to discover who we truly are.

Wishing you a Summer of joyous dusting!

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