What Freedom Looks Like

April 12, 2013 by  
Filed under current, Mothering Space

Miki'ala_DeVivo-Miki's_Freedom_ImageFreedom and parenthood. Sounds a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it?

How can you be “free” if someone needs you every moment of every day, for years and years and years on end?

How I can be free if, even at the age of 35 I have to get permission to leave the house if the kids are home because I’m the primary caregiver?

It just doesn’t seem possible to have this type of huge responsibility and be able to consider myself free.

And yet.

When I have found it at all, I have found my freedom in surrender.
This is not to say that I have given up on growing, learning or trying to be the best me that I can. These kids make me want to be better, and my heart hurts when I fail.
What it means is that each day I’m learning and practicing how to accept what is. In the wise words of that potent prayer, I am becoming ever more aware of the things that are within my power to change, and those that just aren’t.

Yes, sometimes I dream about being “free” and running off to be a hermit in the forest, or to backpack around Europe (Sigh. Younger Miki hand the chance, but didn’t take it. Ah, the folly of youth.)

And yet, I would not give up my role as mother for all the tea in China or pasta in Italy.

For me, freedom doesn’t look like running away.
For me, freedom must look like surrender.

Surrendering to the dishes. Surrendering to the 1372 questions I’m asked in the course of the day. Surrendering to carpools, and interruptions, and to the need, need, need.
Surrendering to the responsibility allows me to grow up and to show up. It frees me to do what needs doing.

Freedom looks like stopping.

Stop wishing life was different, that my kids were more like this and less like that. Stop trying to numb out for just one moment of me time. (Me time is so important, but this isn’t the way to get it.) Stop criticizing and treating everything as a “teachable moment.”

When I stop trying to change what is, allows me the freedom to choose my own attitude and to focus on the positive.

Freedom looks like forgiveness.

Forgiving myself for yelling. Forgiving myself for frustration. Forgiving myself for messing up yet again. Forgiving myself for not feeling good enough.

Forgiveness allows me to say I’m sorry and to get realigned. It gives me the freedom start each day, or each moment if necessary, anew.

Freedom looks like self-care. Finding the source of my own wisdom, my own intuition, my own knowing. Deciding for myself what matters to me, and what my definition of “perfect” is. (See: The Courage To Quit.) Wrestling old demons and loving, loving, loving them until they know that they’re ok too. Knowing that these bits of myself don’t need to go away.

Self-care reminds me again and again and again that I am not broken. It frees me from needing to be fixed.

And freedom looks like these four walls that are my life.

For creativity cannot exist in a vaccum, the canvas needs its edges to give it shape and meaning. Without constraints to guide it, creativity languishes, it has no boundaries to get it flowing in the right direction.

My life is nothing if not constrained. And yet, this is the most creative I’ve ever been.

And yet.

I think it all comes down to these two words.

The constraints, and yet…
The doubts, and yet…
The exhaustion, and yet…

The paradoxical freedom of parenthood.

We are so tightly chained.

And yet…


Miki DeVivoHi, I’m Miki. I am a photographer, family history chronicler, and creator of The Book of Love. I create and tend spaces in which we can be truly seen and deeply loved. I am passionate about collecting and tending stories, capturing moments of everyday tenderness and beauty, and reflecting back to people the very best parts of themselves. Come share my story (and share yours if you like) at mikidevivo.com

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