“Are birds free from the chains of the skies?” asked Bob Dylan.
Are we ever really free? Do we even know what it means?
We want to grow up so fast because we think simplistically as children that once we are adults, we will be autonomous and able to ‘do whatever we want’. This notion gradually gets replaced by the needs of life and the reality that responsibility for our freedom is actually a heavier burden to bear than the lack of freedom we experienced as kids. The irony is that as kids we have freedom, yet we yearn for entrapment because we are biologically programmed to model our parents.
Pursuing the goal of parenthood really does seem insane on some level when you consider the extra layer of responsibility we will be taking on, and yet we are compelled to do it.
Studying the parenting practices of some of the remaining indigenous cultures is a real eye opener - the stresses and restrictions we brace ourselves for in this western society are practically non-existent there. There appears to be no trade off in ‘freedom’. Even the jokes so common in our culture about having no social life for ten years due to kids have no counterpart in these tribal societies. 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 and we don’t.
Freedom is about accepting 100% responsibility for our experience of life.
Our ‘experience’…..not our circumstances, not what happened to us, not what was done to us, but what we experienced from those things.
What we experience is of course deeply internal and personal, but the reality is that we alone have total control over this function, and it is our experience of events that shapes our lives.
If we experience parenthood as a burden, this will shape our lives, and indeed will negatively impact our kids. If however we experience parenthood as just another exciting event on the journey of our lives, then we meet it with dignity and confidence and get on with doing what ever we have to do.
Intrinsic to this idea is the idea of having to do ‘extra work’ because we are now parents - but consider this - all it should really be is a diversion of attention away from one type of ‘work’ to another. If we find ourselves having to do ‘more work’ just because we now have kids to mind - then you gotta ask - what were you not doing before that you had such free time?
Freedom in an internal thing, it comes from assuming responsibility to do what needs to be done, not from having nothing to do!