The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 61, Nov/Dec 2013
Looking Back with Kindsight, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
As the years roll by and our parenting skills increase, and ideally, improve, it’s tempting to look back with regrets on all those moments where we didn’t feel we did our best. After eighteen years of parenting, I can say that there are moments when I cringe and think ‘Oh dear, you really could have done better there!’ But could I? Surely I did the best I could in any given moment? Rarely do I let myself off so lightly.
Hindsight is such a joker: a merciless teaser! Of course we can look back with wisdom and insights, but what all of us need to do, myself included, is look back with kindsight. We need to recognise all the good we invest in our children.
After dedicating all these years to being a full-time stay-at-home mother, my formerly home-schooled daughters are now attending school; next year Bethany leaves for university to follow her dream as a musical-theatre composer, while her novel-writing, history- and science-loving sister, Eliza, plans to travel the world and turn her back on formal, structured education.
From 8am to 4.30pm on weekdays, they inhabit a world I’m not part of, and only get sneak peaks into: boys who serenade, teachers who deprive students of their lunch break, emerging friendships, bus rides, fall-outs, fashion, grammar-poor teachers, and academic successes. It is good and right that my daughters had their formative years in the hub of the family home, where our days were balanced upon the foundation of home-cooked meals, walks in the countryside and long, lazy chats. And it is just as good and right that they’re now immersed in a culture so far removed from everything they’ve ever known. They, too, will look back with hindsight, and with luck, kindsight. They will look back upon our years together and see that their investment in me as a human, as a woman, and as a mother was just as meaningful and valid as every second of the time that I dedicated to them.
It would have been impossible for my life to have become what it has without the work they’ve done on me! Surgeons, they are, cutting away the diseased and imperfect parts of me, day after day after day. Sharpened scalpels, always at the ready.
For those of us, especially as attachment parents who value the importance of newborn bonding, who have ever found ourselves in an alien environment, such as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we can be left reeling, wondering what the heck happened, and how was it even possible for us to be there. As time goes on, however, with kindsight, we might just see that it was as important for us, and our child, to be there as it was for all the people who work or visit such places. We never know whose life we might touch or change by our attention and care to a baby confined to machines and an incubator. And so it is with the world we spend years preparing our children for: the mainstream culture. It needs our children. The culture needs children who were raised by thoughtful, loving, caring parents so that there is the possibility of new light and new energy being added to the cultural soup. History will always repeat itself if our culture is deprived of people who can bring a new way of thinking and being.
All of those times we yearn to live in an intentional community, and to be surrounded only by like-minded folk, seem to fade into the distance when we recognise that we’re all just keeping each other company on the long walk Home. It is far more enjoyable to share the journey when we take food from our backpack and spread it around with our companions. How can it taste good to us if we only ever share it with those people with whom we think worthy? What example do we set for our children when we isolate ourselves from a culture which oftentimes seems so jarring and painful for our soul? Isn’t our job to show them how to soften those edges and ease the pain?
We can bring so much light, love and laughter to the world around us by taking our intentionally conscious lifestyles and letting them be an example, not by what we say, but by who we are (on a good day!). The greatest teachers often come in disguise, and we can weave our way through this world gently, humbly and beautifully as a wayshower. Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest teachings we can ever share, whether that’s as an example to our children or to a stranger.
Kindsight, don’t leave home without it.