Parent confessional – last night’s dinner was tuna mayonnaise, boiled broccoli and corn on the cob and this isn’t unusual for us! On the plus side Seb and I had a wonderful day together, laughing chatting, being curious about things at the science museum in Bristol.. My proposal is that as a parent there are so many things to juggle that the occasional dropped ball is a matter of survival.
Things that matter to me
There can be difficult choices to make and I think it’s a good thing to be conscious about this. For example for me spending high quality time interacting with Seb and nurturing our connection is important, being fulfilled as an artist, having meaningful interactions with friends, being physically fit are all non negotiables for me. Cooking proper food and keeping the garden tidy would be lovely but somehow slide off the priority list.I can easily feel that I’m under a lot of pressure as a parent. Brene Brown talks about “competing conflicting expectations” which we experience culturally especially as women “do it all, do it perfectly and don’t show that it hurts”. I think it’s important to expose and deconstruct these expectations not only because they are damaging to us but because they are harmful to each other and ultimately ecologically destructive. I think there is something deep within our culture which is responsible for this, the association between hard work, self sacrifice and virtue.
A culture of self sacrifice
I have been listening to an excellent lecture series by a cognitive scientist called John Vervaeke. He explains how the Lutherian version of Christianity lead to the protestant work ethic which is sadly still alive and well as an unconscious element of our culture. According to Vervaeke Martin Luther’s interpretation of Christianity meant that you could no longer influence your salvation but material prosperity provided evidence of it. People would therefore work hard to attain wealth and thus provide evidence that they would be saved but it wasn’t ok to enjoy this wealth because this would be committing the sin of pride therefore money would be reinvested in the business, supporting the growth of capitalism.I still experience this quite strongly within myself, hard work as a virtue, guilt at taking time off/leisure.
This is a constant source of dissonance for me as it is at odds with my true values – slowing down, consuming less, connecting with people, being kind. I feel that we have to learn how to take care of ourselves, ever so more as a parent.
A new way of finding value
As Charles Eistenstein points out in his fabulous book “Sacred Economics” it is ten times easier to make he essentials of life than it was a hundred years ago yet many of us are working just as hard. The reason for this is that we are culturally taught to experience our value in economic terms so there is still a broader cultural obsession with the accumulation of wealth – hence the 1%.
So what is the solution? Perhaps the first step is bringing this into consciousness and creating pockets of community where we value each other in non financial terms – perhaps what we bring to the world as creative beings, intellectuals, carers, friends, people with practical skills. We all have the desire to be accepted by each other and to contribute.If there is only one thing I would like to contribute in this life it would be to help unpick this crazy, messed up value system and help us to find ways of being which leave us more ecological and more whole.