An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

The Mothers of the Revolution by Kimberly Paterson

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

            2011 Time magazine names its person of the year, for the first time the person of the year is nameless, the person of the year is “the protester”.  I am a mother of Time magazine’s person of the year.  I am one of the thousands of mothers of the thousands of protesters that has rocked the global consciousness to demand justice, dignity and equality.  My daughter called me full of excitement the first day of the march on Victoria Square in Montreal in October of 2011; she was sitting in the street joining thousands of others for the beginning of Occupy Montreal.  She was there because she believes in justice and this was a way for her to lend her voice to something bigger than herself. 

She said with giddiness that she was prepared to be arrested should it come to that. My heart went out to her, for her earnestness, for daring to believe in something that had no guarantees of personal gain.  She left that day, despite the rush of excitement to go to her job at a coffee shop, because at the end of the day she still has rent to pay.  The occupation continued in Montreal as it did across the globe, with varying degrees of support from the larger community, from the press and from those that sought to contain them with force and legal orders.  During this time, my daughter worked at the Occupy Montreal camp, aptly named “Place de Peoples”, the peoples place, as well as at her coffee shop job.  She had no internet at the camp, her phone minutes had run out so she couldn’t phone me and I lost most communication from her.  All I knew was that she was sleeping in a borrowed tent, crowded in a cold square without electricity.  She would occasionally call me on skype when she went home to warm up, shower and gather supplies.  I realized I didn’t even know what she looked like if I was to see her on the news, she changes her hair so often, so I asked her to send me a photo of her.  She posted a photo on my facebook.  She was wearing a beret, her hair was hanging in blondish ponytails, she looked tired.  She held her hand to the camera and on it were the words

“Hi mom, I’m ok”.

My heart ached for her, I know her as a child who loves comfort and warm blankets and hugs, knowing that she was living in the Occupy camp as one of the few people who were fully participating, working harder than she has ever worked before, for an ideal, for something beyond her own immediate satisfactions was so beautiful to me.

I didn’t worry about her.  She is resourceful, she is cooperative, and she is good hearted. She was also cold, wet and overworked.  It was good.  It was right.  She was learning how capable she is and how to work with not just ideas, but ideals and test them, see where they can take action, to see if they can make a difference, to be a force for good.  I knew my worry for my shivering daughter was nothing compared to the pain the mothers of the Arab Spring protesters.  Praying their children would make it home.  I cried for those mothers and wondered if they too were proud of their daughters, fighting for dignity, not really knowing the degree that violence would touch them that day, but still showing up, because they believed that they needed to be there, knowing their voices made a difference.

I would read the comments on the news articles about the Occupy movement, it seems people were mostly unsupportive.  They epitomized the lowest common denominator, the doubters who were quick to dismiss the actions and ideals of the protestors but never made suggestions on other ways to make big change.  They offered nothing.  Chances are they also did nothing.  Yet these protesters gave up there comfy beds, their dvd collections and clean socks to help keep a dream alive, to feed those that were not being fed, and learn about the democratic processes that built our nations.  The venom made me sad, it made me sad that people had given in to apathy, that they believed that there really was nothing that could be done except work, shop, work, shop, and indulge our selfish desires.

I was proud of my daughter, of all the people that gave up something to be there, that they dared to believe in a better world.  The raising of consciousness is not always welcomed, people will rail against it, against the truth of what is happening and against their own fears.  I pray for guidance for all of us, and give thanks to Allah for giving our children the voices to speak out against injustice, and I pray that it makes a difference.

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  1. Thank you for sharing such a moving article. May those of us who dream for a better world for our children and wish to make a difference, in whatever shape or form, continue with our efforts and be guided and helped by Allah.

  2. I hope my children too would be able to forgo temporary comforts and the false accolades of this world in order to make a difference.

    I hope also that in knowing that I had been available for my children now when they are truly needing me would make it easier for me one day to let them beat their own adult wings and be a force of good.

    Thank you for this beautiful article. I must say you are a courageous mother for having raised such an inspiring daughter!

  3. It seems subjective, doesn’t it? There is always a danger of following our own passions and desires of what is ‘good’ and imposing it on others. Perhaps what is needed is a sense of humility based on a heart sensitive enough to discern the needs of others, to practise gentleness when gentleness is needed and ‘harshness’ when that is required. The litmus test being our ability to rise above our habitual conditions, moment by moment desires and personal ambitions, ie to surrender our own nafs for the sake of others. Perhaps a force of love would be a better phrase? This would indeed be a balm for the hurting world.

  4. Is doing good subjective? Whats your experience?

  5. This is a good question. I would like to mull on this subject. Perhaps others have their thoughts and experience on this?

  6. Take the case of disciplining children. There are parents who believe it is good to send a misbehaving child for a time-out. When in fact the child in question is actually crying out for unconditional love and complete acceptance regardless of their misdeeds. What they need is to be in the presence of a trusted adult as a source of strength to draw from and an emotional rock to lean on to so that their out of control emotions can be gently brought back to centre.

    Another example of a discipline method that is easily subjected to a parent’s current state of emotion is the spanking of a young child in the mistaken believe that it would be ‘good’ for them. I personally cannot see how physically hurting a child would impart any beneficial lessons beyond the pervasive idea that “bad behaviour equals punishment”. An alternative to this punitive method of discipline is to impart on these young, impressionable souls the ‘art of restitution’ or of making things better.

    Allah knows best.

  7. Thanks Asma,

    I like this idea of drawing back to the center – both ourselves and being there as a space of compassion for others to do so too.

    Sometimes though, I feel, directness is needed – may be to get to that center. I’ve experienced this from spiritual teachers. One however gets the feeling it’s always through them, from a place of compassion, rather then from them.

    S

  8. This is interesting. If you don’t mind perhaps you can share your experience with your spiritual teachers on regards to getting back to centre and how you bring that to your interactions with your children.

    As for me I am working to project a feeling of calm and compassion during turbulent moments with my children. Redirection, distraction, and finally surrendering to that moment without me falling apart, and convincing myself that if I can gently ride these storms and come to shore, the clouds will soon disperse and the sea will regain its tranquility.

    It certainly is a journey!

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