Freedom is the ability to decide how we experience life.
As kids we have real freedom but not much autonomy, and because we are biologically programmed to model our parents who seem free – we yearn to be like them and want nothing more than to grow up fast. As we grow up, we quickly learn that being autonomous is not the same as being free because with it comes responsibility.
Nature drives us to want children – which involves a lot of work and is an awesome responsibility.
A small percentage of couples who are struggling with infertility will find – if they’re being honest – that one or both parties carry in their hearts an unacknowledged conflict about whether or not they are truly ready to commit to the responsibility of being a parent. Some of this comes from their own upbringing – maybe their parents struggled with issues or conveyed a sense of being burdened by parenthood due to a loss of freedom.
Studying the parenting practices of a select few indigenous cultures is an eye opener. The transition into parenthood is not accompanied by a cultural sense of lost freedom but rather is relished as a new opportunity to express themselves. Many of the cliched humorous complaints we make about the burden of parenting in our western society – like having no social life for ten years or getting no sleep are practically non-existent there – they just don’t sense it the same way.
I’m going to posit that the real reason for this is because they understand freedom differently to us. Freedom is about accepting 100% responsibility for our experience of life – not for our circumstances or for what happened to us, but for how we experience and react to those things. What we experience is internal and very personal, it is something we have full control over, and it is this control that gives us the ability to our choose how autonomous we are willing to be and thus how much of our lives we get to determine.
If you want to have children but are hesitant to commit because you sense a conflict in your heart about the inevitable loss of freedom – there’s a simple solution for this – know that freedom is an internal experience, it emerges as a consequence of assuming full responsibility for yourself.
The less we do, the less responsibility we need to take – the less we get to experience freedom. The more freedom we want the more we must be willing to accept responsibility for the experience of our journey – and parenthood is surely one of the greatest journeys!