How do you do The Great Work while doing The Great Work of Parenting?
Parenting a child is a Mystery Tradition unto itself. I don't just mean the actual pregnancy and birth, which are Women's Mysteries, but the raising of a child. For the uninitiated, who don't understand the joys, there are only annoyances: A coven mate, who has no children, recently complained about a two year old who was allowed to bounce around and annoy the other passengers while waiting for a delayed flight in an airport (she's lucky the child wasn't wailing). I was instantly offended when I read it; It felt incredibly judgmental. I've been the passenger, I've been the parent. Now, when I hear a child crying, my immediate reaction isn't annoyance, it's to decipher what kind of cry it is: Pain, tantrum, tired, hungry... it happens within an instant, it's not even a conscious thought at this point. My second thought is sympathy for the parent for having to deal with it around a hostile public. My third is to send some energy to both. Today, in fact, I shared a "been there" moment with a Mom whose child had been crying in a restaurant.
Sure there are challenges when raising a child, but the love, the magick, the joy of seeing the world anew through someone else's eyes, guiding someone through the labyrinth of life... It's more than worth it. When you are a parent, you can experience what it is to have true Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, not just as an ideal or goal or esoteric theory, but as an actual, immediate presence.
I'm not saying everyone should be a parent (I know people who should never ever procreate!). My point is that children should be embraced by the magickal community instead of shutting parents out with them. I don't mean every group should be a "family" group with kids running around blowing out the candles on the altar, but there are easy ways to work with those of us who are parents.
I decided to pursue a Community, rather than just keep to my Family Tradition, to not only expand my own magickal horizons, but also to have that community for my child. I want him to grow up around Magickal people. Unfortunately, many of these people, whom I love dearly and respect deeply, are not party to The Mystery of Parenting. By choice or by circumstance, there are not many who have children who aren't old enough to fend for themselves. This puts me in a bind. I feel like in the eyes of the majority, it's a hurdle. There are classes and meetings and gatherings I will inevitably miss. But there are easy ways to make it possible, especially with current technology.
I'm from a Family Tradition where your Family is your coven and the church is your community. Family is an integral part of the Tradition. Who do you pass your knowledge to? Who do you teach The Ways? Back when your life was on the line for your beliefs, you trusted no one but Blood. Helping make the family recipes, doing the every day rituals, working by your Mom's side and your Grandparent's side, learning without even realizing it... (I sometimes joke that my training was akin to Ralph Macchio's in Karate Kid: Wax on! Wax off!) This Adults only, children are an obstacle idea is completely foreign to me.
There are groups that do include kids: The occasional inclusive ritual, the season appropriate activity/workshop done while the adults are working. They've been wonderful, but also too few and far between.
Is it that there hasn't been a need? Are there too few children in the community to bother to make it happen? If I proposed something, would it be scoffed at? Do I care about a mere scoff? I have less leisure time, less disposable income and less sleep, but I have more motivation, more support and more unique insight. I'm not just doing this for me. I'm doing it for my child. I'd kill for him, I'll deal with scoffing like a cool breeze on a hot day.
Here's a quick guide for non parents:
I will Always have a priority that is higher than you.
I will Never be able to fully commit to an event, even after I have committed.
I Will bail on meetings and rituals at the last minute.
I Do want my child included, when appropriate, and no, not all the time (I need grown up time too!)
I Do want to do The Work, I just might not do it on your timetable.
Any Parents out there please feel free to add to this handy reference.