When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person
who can live at peace with others. - Peace Pilgrim
Perhaps it is age and experience that bring us wisdom indeed. As young, idealistic parents we are often on our soapboxes about what is "right" and how we should parent our children. We wear our passion on our sleeves and often become defensive in the face of opposition. We believe there is one way - our way. Whether our passion is expressed in our beliefs about childbirth, breastfeeding, our diet, or educational choices, we feel "right", others "wrong."
But some days down the road, the powers that be open us up. We discover a new path, perhaps due to health crisis or new information. Or we find ourselves in place where we are willing to make a change, and our edges start to soften. We have not lost our passion nor our ideals, but we have grown into the wisdom of tolerance.
At Holistic Moms, we struggle with the challenge each and every day. Our members are parents with many passions. Some new parents, some with adult children. What we share in is an interest in natural, holistic, and sustainable living. But what that means to each of us is not the same. Holistic living and parenting is a journey. We are each unique, with our own life experiences, knowledge, wisdom, and resources. There is not one "right" but what is "right" at this time, in this place, with this information. Understanding that and cultivating tolerance is essential for our very existence and for our mission and purpose of supporting parents and raising awareness. Attacking, criticizing, and making others feel guilty for their choices will not achieve these goals. Honoring diversity and treating each other with tolerance will.
When I was in graduate school, I spent several years living with a roommate I adored. We had much in common, and many differences. I was a vegetarian at the time, passionate about healthy foods and nutrition. She was a fan of drive-thrus. We never attacked each other about our eating habits, but chose to live in the same space with different choices. Many years later we reconnected and the tides had indeed turned - she was passionate about healthy living and she and her entire family had embraced a plant-based lifestyle. Peaceful co-existence had allowed her the space to discover another choice in a place that was safe and accepting. She found a path that worked for her and, ironically, I have since chosen another!
When we refuse to tolerate or even begin to understand the choices of others we close ourselves off from learning. The choice we have made in this time and this space may not be the choice that serves us well in the future. When we become rigid about being right, we fail to recognize when we ourselves our wrong. And when we demand that others change, we make them more steadfast in their positions rather than open to new possibilities.
It is not an easy road to travel. Critics on every side will find fault with us for not being "their" way. Holistic living is not a single issue. Indeed, the very nature of holism is a recognition that everything is connected and intertwined. One single choice does not exclude you from being a holistic parent, nor does any one choice make you one. You will never have arrived in the land of health or parenting perfection, but will always be on your way there. And what journey doesn't deserve some good company?