He held his tooth in his hand. In an excited tone he yelled, “look mommy, I lost my first tooth”. Like a miniature old man, a gummy smile broke across his face. I felt a division form within me between the part of me that rejoices at having reached another development milestone and the part of me that felt the baby in him becoming more and more lost to me. When you are home with your children every day, the time slips by. You don’t notice the radical changes because you are present for the continuity of growth. They change under your nose and before you realize it, they are grown. In my line of work, I am sometimes gone on trips that last anywhere from five days to two weeks at a time. But because of the harrowing schedule of my last European trip, I was gone for three weeks. It is the longest I’ve ever been gone from Winter (my son). When there are lapses in your presence around your children, the continuity is gone. You return to find them much changed.
Winter lives in an intentional community. I deliberately created this community because of my firm belief in intentional community in general. But I knew that it would allow me to be a mom who comes and goes for my purpose in the world without destroying my son’s life. The problem with nannies is that they are transient. A child gets attached to them and then loses them. Transient caregivers create attachment disorders that ruin a child’s prospects for healthy relationships in adulthood. I knew that by raising Winter in a tribal like setting, he would have multiple non transient caregivers, creating a secure attachment system. I have taken Winter into a child psychologist twice over the course of his life to put him through an attachment test for curiosity sake. Both times, he has shown himself to have a 100% secure attachment style. So this decision of mine to raise him in a modern tribal setting has worked. When I go on my work trips, I have a worse time with the separation emotionally than he does.
Children are not born into this world with an idea of how things SHOULD be. Their suffering is about the meaning that we (as their adult attachment figures) give to them. Winter has no concept that mommy should be home with him all day every day. In our community, we trade days with Winter. Essentially, we have certain days where each one of us is responsible for taking him to school and picking him up and feeding him and figuring out activities to do with him. This allows us to have 100% focused quality time with him and have the rest of the time to really dedicate our focus to our purpose in the world. A child might feel like a hot potato being traded off like that. However, we have given him a different meaning for the experience. We have told him that EVERYONE wants time with him and so we have to share time with him so no one gets left out and everyone gets a chance. We used the meaning we gave him to increase his self-confidence. The other day, on Blake’s day to watch him, I asked him if he’d like to read a book with me. A worried look came across his face and he said “I’m sorry mommy, it’s Blake’s day and he’d be too sad if he didn’t get to spend time with me.”
I have involved him in my career choices as well. I don’t tell him that mommy has to go on tour even though she doesn’t want to. Telling him that would undermine the fact that I’m determined to teach him the power and truth of free choice. I’m teaching him that that no one HAS to do anything. Instead, I have explained to him why I want to do what I’m doing around the world. Winter has an exceptionally high empathy level. I have told him that people all around the world are hurting inside and that I help them to feel better. I’ve told him that by helping mommy to go around the world, he is helping those people who are hurting too. This approach has worked as well. On the one occasion this year that I told him that I didn’t want to go, he grabbed my face and said “Mommy, we need to help people or else they will feel bad so you need to go and Graciela will play with me.”
Despite the success of these approaches I have taken with my son, the ‘mommy guilt’ closes in on me. The pressure put on me by society as a result of the expectations society has of moms is heavy. And the fact that I have unconsciously adopted those expectations of myself makes self-love difficult to maintain. I’m always the Mom who has no idea what the hell is going on at parent teacher conferences. The other moms take it as their perfect opportunity to passive aggressively shame me for it. I can see their hateful envy of the life I lead spliced with the judgment that living the life I live is selfish. They revel in their sense of ‘goodness’ in comparison to me. Sacrificing for their children’s sake is the closest they can come to loving themselves now that their skin has given way to stretch marks and they have lost their identity outside of the role they serve for their children and their husbands are ignoring them. I feel sad every time I have to be around other moms. It is a mutually tormenting experience. I can feel the pressure put on women to be all things to all people. I can feel the way we are forced to compete with one another like prized commodities. I can feel it in the way that we hate each other. Perhaps I get an exceptionally high dose of hatred from other women because of the threat my presence poses to their self-concept. But for the most part, women do hate each other. And having a relationship with each other is as delicate as walking barefoot on broken glass. It takes almost nothing for us to turn on each other. And this has gotten exceptionally bad since having a child myself. My entire style of parenting is an invalidation to the way that other women parent. I have three close friends in my life with children. Every other friend I have is the type of freedom loving spiritualist that is baffled about why I would ‘choose to do that to myself’.
What most people don’t know is that when a child’s teeth begin to fall out, they are in a very special transition. This is why it happens in conjunction with a dramatic shift in consciousness for a child. They become much more adult in their behavior style, much more awake, aware and ‘down to earth’ in the physical dimension. They are effectively joining the physical world as thinking beings. They are transitioning out of the phase of pure felt perception. They are deciding to fully be here as adults.
Most people would feel themselves recoil at the concept of a child around 8 years old being seen as an adult. But that is because our society is so complex that it takes many more years for a child to become self-sufficient. But many religions around the world see this age as the time that a being is now accountable for their actions and therefore ready for the responsibility of choice and free will. By this age, a child’s primary imprints have been made. Imprints are the beliefs, experiences and concepts they adopt that set them up for the rest of their life. The cards they have been dealt that they will play for the rest of their life. These imprints become solidified in the being. Think of life up until this point for a child as ‘coding’ and then when the teeth fall out, the product is launched. They are transitioning out of the formative phase of life were their spirit is creating a distinct vehicle for its expansion in the physical dimension. The child’s spirit has done the intense molding work, and is now freed to help the child’s progression, through thinking and memory. The child is then ready to begin formalized mental learning. It is a second birth of sorts.
Every day since Winter has lost his first tooth, he is becoming more and more adult in his interaction style. He is becoming more ‘tuned in’ to his environment and everything in it. His verbal communication has made a huge leap and he is showing a readiness and hunger to learn academically in a mental way. I must admit that when parents tell me that their child learned to read by 4, I cringe. I actually align with the Waldorf philosophy that the best policy is to wait for ‘readiness’ in the child for each phase of learning and to let the child’s hunger for learning something be the thing that leads them to learn. In general, children are not ready for academic (formalized) learning before this age where their teeth begin to fall out.
For thousands of years, being stuck in the ego, people saw their children as belongings. They saw their children as extensions of themselves. Parents could not recognize their children as individuals and so they treated their children as products. I am glad to say that some people are finally beginning to come out of this idiocy. I was talking to a comminity member about this concept this morning over breakfast. When he asked me what my idea of parenting is, I told him to imagine that the universe handed you an egg. You have no idea what is in that egg or what the thing in this egg intended for this life. You just know that dormant inside the being in that egg is a divine purpose for being here. You know it is going to have unique likes and dislikes, wants and needs, personality and expression. You know that your job is to help it hatch and continue hatching over the course of its life. Each layer of shell that is removed allows the being inside to be actualized. Your job is to enable it to realize it’s own inherent talents, gifts, wants, needs and purpose. We have many tools for enabling the being inside the egg to do this. But the most important tool is love.
All too often a person needs to find a way to hatch in spite of their parents. This is because the parents do not approach the hatching process appropriately. They address the hatching process from the angle of 1. This egg belongs to me therefore I can do with it what I like. 2. This being inside the egg is raw material for me to get to mold the being inside it into what I want it to look like and what I want it to want and need and become. 3. I get to decide what its purpose is. 4. My love will be conditional upon the being inside the egg validating my life through its existence. The child in this kind of environment will grow up to look like an adult, but they are not hatched. They have to begin the hatching process in teen hood and adulthood and will often do it by rebelling against the parents. Rebellion within a social group is not natural (even though we think it is). It only occurs if we have behaved in a way towards the child that limits its own capacity to self-actualize and self-express and self-become in the physical dimension. It only happens if we have behaved in a way that prohibits the child from fully hatching in accordance with its soul’s purpose for being here in the physical dimension.
I seldom write publicly about my son. I have no pictures of his face or of us spending time together on any of my public accounts. Even though it is one of the aspects of my life that people want me to speak about the most. Like most famous people (especially people who are famous for their controversial opinions) I am not the only one who receives threats directed at me. My son does too. When people want to harm you, they go for your Achilles heel. They know full well that a person’s Achilles heel is their child. I collapsed into tears a few years back when I received the first death threat directed at my son. It was from a Christian woman who believed that I was the antichrist and that my son was therefore Satan’s spawn. Regardless of whether the hate mail is directed at killing him or saving him from me, it has been the aspect of my career that I detest the most. I have often doubted my decision to fulfill on the purpose I feel so strongly because of it. Any kind of revolutionary attracts extreme opposition. Opposition that puts the people associated with them at risk. And it is not easy to decide that the risk is worth continuing with the mission you feel in your heart.
There is collateral damage that comes with fame. And this is part of the contrast that my son opted into by virtue of coming to me as a mother. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
I have hidden him from the public eye by only referring to him when I am teaching as ‘my son’ and by keeping pictures of him out of public view. I have tried to give him a nurturing upbringing that is not riddled with the conflict that fame attracts. The security measures at his school are doubled because of the risk. I have tried to shield him as much as I can from the potential risks. But recently, I had an interesting conversation…
In my position, I am now consulted by several VERY famous people. I was talking to a couple of them and in the middle of a conversation about my son they collectively agreed,“The worst choice you could make is to hide your child from the public eye. This makes them even more alluring bait. The stars that choose to do that always end up regretting it the most. Their children are effectively hunted. Everyone is the most curious about what is kept secret.” They encouraged me to expose my children intentionally. They told me to give the public the picture of my children that I want them to see. If your fame grows, the time will come that you literally cannot hide the people around you, including your child. It is no longer a choice you get to make. It is made for you. It is done whether you like it or not. It is the price of fame. And so, from seasoned experience, their perspective was that it is better to be intentional about it from the get go.
In the beginning of June, the documentary about me and my life (Open Shadow) is being premiered in Sedona at the illuminate festival. My son, Winter obviously appears in the documentary footage because he is one of the most integral parts of my life. I am at a point where he can no longer be effectively hidden (only referred to as ‘my son’ and never pictured). So I have considered decisively allowing him into the public eye when I have good reason to do so instead of hiding him. After talking to so many famous people about this issue, I actually believe this will make him safer in the long run. His childhood will be anything but normal because I am his mother. But I have and will create a nurturing and healthy childhood for him all the same. There are many benefits he will reap as a result of who I am and because of my fame as well. He has and will continue to have many opportunities that other children never get to have when they are growing up.
The scariest part about raising children is that each and every one of us gets to do the best with what we have and what we know from where we are and simply wait for our children’s lives to be the indication of whether we did the best thing or not. We get to wait until they grow up and turn back to look at their childhoods objectively and say whether or not we succeeded or failed. Until then, I can say one thing, the more in touch we are with our own inner child, the easier parenting our children will be.