So yesterday I vowed to take the risk of looking at what it would take to make my New Year’s Resolution (to take more risks) more specific. This means I will have to look at what a risk is to me. Some thoughts:
A risk is something
It makes me aware of my heart beating.
I could lose something.
I could fail.
I could be proven bad.
Essentially, a risk is something that makes me feel I will end up discarded on the existential junk heap of futility and uselessness.
After calling up the muse of my trusty dictionary, I find another meaning:
"a person or thing regarded as a threat to something in need of protection."
What do I spend the most time protecting? My self, for sure, and by this I mean my sense of my self as an intact, functioning, worthwhile entity. In short, a non-resident of the aforementioned existential junk heap.
But I also feel as if I spend copious amounts of time protecting my children. Of course, there are plenty of frights a mother needs to protect her young children from – electrical outlets come to mind – but my children are way beyond the need for those obvious protections. And yet, I keep on protecting them.
In ten thousand ways.
That’s a reference to the Dao De Jing, which if you have visited this blog lately you know I have been reading – a stanza a day. On the first day of this year, I finished one version (excellent for beginners) and now I have started another version (much better I might add) recommended to me by (un)relaxeddad.
Today’s stanza includes the following lines:
This is why the man of wisdom
Concerns himself with under-acting
And applies the lesson
Of the word unspoken,
That all ten thousand may come forth
Without his direction,
Live through their lives
Without his possession,
And act of themselves
Unbeholden to him.
To the work he completes
He lays down no claim.
And this has everything to do
With why his claim holds always true.
My children are each one of the ten thousand things. I want them to live through their lives without my possession. I want them to act of themselves, unbeholden to me. I even want to lay no claim to the mothering work I have completed (that may have to wait until next year’s resolution is due, however).
I am beginning to think that much of what I imagine is "protecting" my children is actually protecting myself from how I would feel if something bad happened to them.
Now I know at least one way I am going to make my New Year’s resolution more specific.
I am going to protect my children less.
I am going to do less as a mother.
And I am going to go one step further and take the risk of committing, right here and now, to revisiting my resolution right here on TEOM? every Tuesday. Right now, I imagine I will try to show you one way I have risked doing less each week but I really have no idea.
And while I am at it, here’s one last risk: if I fail to show up on Tuesday to revisit my goal of doing less as a mother, will you please remind me?