One of the most amazing, and for me unexpected, things about parenthood is just how much little ones teach you about yourself and the world. The past week I’ve been thinking a lot about the practice of acceptance, all prompted by my daughter’s total intolerance for being dressed. Parents you will hear me. Why is it every single time you dress them, they put up a fight? I probably change Sophia a minimum of twice a day, more sometimes, and in nearly thirteen months she has yet to develop any patience for it. She kicks her legs, shouts, and ever since she’s been mobile, literally tries to get away. Last week this scene played out for the millionth time and I kept thinking why does she hate it so much? Getting dressed is just a part of life, both socially acceptable and frankly, in England, a way of not getting cold. Why can’t she just accept it?
The response that followed was unexpected. Clear as anything, I heard my intuition say; why can’t you just accept anything? Touché intuition, touché. I was watching my little girl do the same thing I do day after day, year after year; resisting what is. Okay, I recognise getting dressed is a choice, unlike say, the fact that it’s raining today, or not getting the grade/job/opportunity you sought, but still, why do we resist our reality? Why can’t we ‘Love What Is’, as Byron Katie would say?
I should probably follow up by saying, I have no idea what the answer to this question is. I do know that sometime what is, really sucks, and acceptance takes a long time, but sometimes (in the case of getting dressed/losing out on a job) it’s just a frustrating but fairly inevitable part of life. Maybe this resistance is the ego’s attempt at exerting control, a way of convincing ourselves that we have more agency than we really do. In some ways acceptance is akin to saying ‘I don’t call all the shots’, because we don’t. So why do we keep trying to convince ourselves otherwise? And perhaps more importantly, would we be happier if we didn’t?
Sophia doesn’t know that I dress her every day for her own good, and it got me thinking about the times that we have no idea why something that seems against our best interests is actually our very destiny. I can think of dozens of times in my life where something felt like a mistake but ended up being the reason I got where I ultimately wanted. Because accepting what is doesn’t take away the agency we do have, doesn’t stop us being the master of our own destiny, but it does stop us kicking our legs whilst our mother tries to get some leggings on us (you appreciate the metaphor).
As you can tell by now, I have no gems of wisdom to impart, just a question. What would life be like if we stopped fighting what is? If I’m honest I can’t even imagine what this world would look like, I just know as I watched Sophia’s total frustration as I dressed her, I couldn’t help but see myself, thrashing about, fighting a futile battle. And as I watched, wishing she wasn’t so unhappy, that she could see this act as an of care, not subjugation, I heard my intuition say another thing ‘Stop fighting’.