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Center for Action and Contemplation
Conscious Parenting
Conscious Parenting

Becoming a Parent

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Conscious Parenting

Becoming a Parent
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

If you’ve listened to the Center’s podcast, Another Name for Every Thing, you’ve heard the voices of Brie Stoner and Paul Swanson. [1] Both Brie and Paul are committed students of the contemplative path and are also parents. Today I’ll share some of Brie’s insights on being a mother, and Saturday you’ll hear from Paul. 

No one is ever ready to become a parent.

Even if the birth is long anticipated, planned, tried for . . . there is nothing that can prepare us for the transition into a life that is no longer about us, now entirely given for another. Our minds honestly can’t imagine it. Romantic love, as much as it begins to re-orient us to selfless love, doesn’t touch the incomparable sensation of experiencing your heart exit your body and become ensconced in the tiny vulnerable body of a child (adopted or birthed).

Fortunate as I was to be a biological mom, I was thrust into the experience right from the start: my body no longer belonged to me, it belonged to the very capricious growing little alien I was housing. Every glowing peaceful image of a pregnant woman became an absolute bait-and-switch lie as I struggled through terribly uncomfortable pregnancies carrying Viking-spawn-sized babies, which only served to underscore the perpetual discomfort of what love requires. This is my body broken for you.

It is precisely that vulnerability that becomes our path as parents. Suddenly we come around to recognizing what has always been true: we are not in control of our universe and never have been. But now that we are oriented toward wanting to protect the small life in our care, we delude ourselves for a while and nearly lose our minds trying to be in control. Our ego is certain that we will fare better, we will do this parenting thing right (not like our parents!). We obsessively read every book, taking every how-to-correctly-attach-to-your-baby class, . . . and live temporarily under the fallacy that we can control schedules, perfectly discipline behavior positively, and . . . and. . . .

Eventually, a pacifier hits the floor and we don’t wipe it off before sticking it back in our kid’s mouth. We adjust to the unpredictable ebb and flow of sleep and lack of sleep and meal times that follow no linear order. We soften to admit the non-wooden toy into our home. We begin to surrender to what was always bigger than us anyway.

Let’s be real: we’re never really ready for love to turn our world upside-down. Our egos prefer the idea to the reality, the Pinterest version of parenting . . . not the real thing. But Love loves us through the tectonic shift anyway, because to love generatively is to join the dance of how everything becomes in this universe: chaos, re-order, a resurrected life that is completely “after” the version of our “before.” 

[1] Explore the first season of Another Name for Every Thing podcast:

Article by Brie Stoner. Visit to learn more about Brie. See also “Mindful Parenting: A Conversation with Brie Stoner” (April 2, 2019),

Image credit: The Child’s Bath (detail), Mary Cassatt, 1893, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: God to a young mother: I’m watching you get up exhausted every morning, and I’m so touched that you want to spend this time with me [in contemplation]. Really, I am! It just means the world to me. The thing is, I just can’t bear how much I love you. It’s too much! And so at a certain point I rush into the [body of your child and wake her up] because . . . because I want to know what it feels like to be held by you. —James Finley
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