by Veronika Sophia Robinson
A mother recently asked me how to demonstrate an inspired life to your children (re: my editorial in TM54) when you’ve got two little ones, and you’re constantly exhausted. I reflected upon my early years of mothering.
My daughters are 22 months apart. I know what it’s like to meet the needs of a baby and a toddler, Continuum-Concept style, and feel washed out from lack of sleep, and fully stretched from tandem nursing all day and night long. I’ve experienced the reality of parenting without family and friends around to support us; not to mention moving between three countries in the space of a year, not long after my youngest daughter’s birth. I know what it’s like to parent in isolation away from friends and support.
What I also know is this: five minutes playing the piano each day, with a baby on your lap, is far better than no minutes. If our children see us doing something like this, they soon learn that ‘this is what mum does’, and will let go of sabotaging this time. Ten minutes of yoga each morning is better than no practice at all. At first, your children will climb all over you ~ not conducive to relaxation ~ but the novelty of using you as a climbing frame will wear off.
It’s important to set the intention, and then allow the time and space to be created around you. The inspired life comes from doing what you love ~ right from the start of your parenting.
What are we saying to our children when we let go of our pleasures? There is no question that parenting consciously, and certainly in an attachment style, requires what we might call sacrifice. Primarily, that sacrifice is bound up with time and energy. And yet, they’re the most valuable commodities that anyone has regardless of who they are.
I’ve also learnt that when a mother feels disconnected from life, it means she’s not recharging adequately from the Source: Mother Earth. When was the last time you walked barefoot outdoors for more than half an hour? When did you sit with your back to a tree? When did you put your hands into the moist earth and kneel forward, prayer-like, to our great planet as you planted seeds or pulled weeds?
Our lives are so domesticated that we have lost sight of what brings us nourishment and sustenance. We wear shoes which disconnect us, and we live in houses or work in offices which not only disconnect us from the Earth, but bombard us with electromagnetic radiation.
Days are set to clocks, timetables, routines and appointments. The natural calendar of seasons, Moon cycles, sunrise and sunset, fall by the wayside as if they’re somehow not important. When we live connected to Mother Earth (by walking barefoot, sleeping on an earthing sheet and living by her cycles, for example), our body clock can reset itself, and we’re in a position to heal ourselves and our family, whether that is from illness or exhaustion.
The other nourishment comes from enjoying ourselves. Whether you play an instrument or throw clay to make pots, grow herbs or paint seascapes, read novels or do embroidery, bellydance or camp outdoors, find a way to nourish these pleasures and passions, even if only for a few minutes a day, so that not only are your children seeing a model of inspiration, but you are feeling nourished. Looking after ourselves ~ meeting our biological need for pleasure ~ is as vital to natural parenting as is wearing a baby in a sling, sharing the family bed, breastfeeding on cue, or healing your child with natural remedies. If our children see us being martyrs to the natural parenting cause, they might just well parent Gina-Ford style when they grow up!
I believe we’re designed to enjoy the company of our children. If that’s not happening, then we need to look for the original wound to find the cure.
To model an inspired life for your children, you need to invest in a pleasurable life for yourself.
Veronika Robinson, Editor
The deep, dark Winter draws me ever inward. I have no choice really, as I instinctively seek out warmth. I’m sustained by the gentle rhythm of family life, and the hearth at the centre of our home. My family and I gather around the fire to read, write, draw, sip tea, chat and play board games.
The hearth has long been the space around which family ceremonies, rituals and daily existence have been celebrated.
At a time of rocketing fuel bills, I’m grateful that we’re able to source and burn wood from locally-grown trees. In the fourteen years that we’ve lived here, I’ve admired each new plantation of trees, knowing that in time they’ll warm the homes of families in the area. They beautify the environment, provide fresh air, are a sustainable source of Winter fuel. Within half a mile of here, the forester gathers the logs and splits them, seasons them over time, then brings them to our home.
The fire is also a place for phoenix ceremonies: the ritual of writing down that which we want to release from our lives, and burning it down to ashes.
The hearth gives me a connection to a long line of my European ancestresses, who would have baked, sewed, washed and nurtured by the family fire. The word heart is found within hearth, and the etymology of both words is similar.
In Latin, the meaning of hearth is focus, and the stillness of Winter does indeed draw us in to focus on what is really important in life.
In Goddess literature, the Roman Vesta is ruler of the hearth: a place of cooking and spiritual significance.
In Greek mythology, Hestia is the Goddess of sacred fire. The virtues of Hestia are gentleness, mildness, forgiveness, serenity and calmness, and being a welcoming presence. Her role was to be of service to the family. She stayed at home, and unlike other Goddesses, didn’t get involved in fights. Her role was always about unconditional love. She was the keeper of the estate, and ensured the pantry was full for when the other Gods and Goddesses returned. It was from her that the idea of sanctuary was borne. She considered caring for others as a sacred obligation.
In times gone by, homes had a hearth dedicated to the Goddess. People would begin and end their day with a ritual asking her to protect the family. Considered the Goddess of architecture, it was believed that homes should be built from the centre ~ the hearth and Hestia’s sacred flame ~ and then built outwards.
The message was that a home is where we nurture our body, spirit and relationships. The sacred fire is where we come home to after our visits in the outside world. Here we find peace, comfort and security.
Fire is a living entity, and this is palpable when it’s part of daily life in the colder months. Each crackle, hiss and pop reminds me that I’m not alone. The dance of orange, russet and burgundy flames is always changing: always mesmerising.
Fire is a natural teacher of energy, drive, passion, and also of resurrection. What is it that fuels us? What is it that inspires us to jump out of bed in the morning and live our life as if it’s the greatest gift we’ve been given? Fire. The fire in our belly.
The family hearth is symbolic of the heart of family life. If you live in a modern building without a hearth or in a tropical climate, you can create a symbolic hearth by using candles. One of Hestia’s symbols is the circle which represents both wholeness and centredness, and the family being at the centre of all things. Create a circle altar, and include Hestia’s other symbols. She represents hearth, home, living flame, architecture, bowls, veils, the pantry, and keys. She represents pigs and donkeys. Her flowers are yarrow, hollyhock, goldenrod, Angel’s trumpet, purple coneflower and Californian poppy. To your altar, add her scents of lavender, angelica and peony. Add gems and metals of amethyst, garnet, gold, silver, and brass. Her colours include gold, dark rose, lavender, silver, and black.
Create your altar with reverence for the original meaning of the hearth, and may the heart of the home pervade all aspects of your family life.