Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Practising Non-Attachment as a Parent

I remember learning about attachment before I became a parent. I didn't quite get it. I was young. I thought Buddha maybe just had a bad attitude and if he could shift his perspective, he'd see that suffering really was optional. Oh dear.

Then I became a mother. Now I know what attachment is. And let me tell you, not all attachment is bad. In fact, I used to say that if I wasn't attached to my daughter, I'm not sure how I would have kept taking care of her. So it serves a purpose...

So there I was, a practising non-attacher, having a kid, wanting her to be great, but not because I was forcing or pushing her, but because she was just turning out that way, through you know, her nature.

While she was little, we enrolled her in Suzuki violin. One of our yoga students was a Suzuki teacher and it made a lot of sense. I figured I'd be fighting, I mean interacting, with my daughter about something like dance or gymnastics classes, so it might as well be playing the violin. At least parents are involved and there's good communication and it's a pretty wholesome activity.

So my daughter was a "musician." She had an instrument and we had a purpose. We invested in lessons and music camp and pretty note drop earrings. We sat through hours of lessons and many more hours of practising at home in addition to arguing about practising and getting ready to go and spending time in traffic getting to, violin lessons. We did this for years.

I didn't realize how attached I'd become to being a parent of a little musician until one day she stopped playing. "What do you mean you're not going to play the violin anymore? We've spent thousands of dollars on this activity. What will you do instead? Don't you know that kids who are in the orchestra don't wind up in trouble at school?"

I kept the paraphernalia in a drawer and on shelves. The music books. Music stand. Extra shoulder and chin rests. Resin. Little things. And sort of let go of my attachment to my daughter being a musician. She dabbled in the bass and that was cool but she didn't really get back into it. Oh well. She used to be a musician. Now she just sits on the couch and plays on the computer. Oh well. She was probably too structured in the past. Oh well.

Years pass. She picks up modelling. The fashion kind. That freaked me out and I watched my attachment to her not being a model show up. "Just let it go. Pay for the photos. It's an activity. It's good she's doing something. Her hair looks really nice now and her make up sure is pretty. Allow her to be herself..."

Then I get the strangest text out of the blue last month. "Should I start doing violin again" was what it said. "Ok" was the reply and "it'll give me something to do after school." Wow. I contacted her most recent old teacher (not my yoga student) who said he had room and after a bumpy start, we're back at it. Saw her old teacher for the first time in years and it was like no time had passed. She even picked up sort of where she'd left off. His handwriting was still in the books and he could see where she'd ended a few years ago. This time it's so different though. She practises with her own initiation. She suggests it and asks me to be there but if I'm not, she still plays. Her sound is great and it's really nice to hear live music in the house again.

It's not finished but I'm just enjoying the bobbing of the waves. Up and down. Life. Parenting. It's wonderful.

1 comment:

Maristela Petrovic-Dzerdz said...

My son stopped practicing piano after 5 years. It was really hard for me, although dragging him to piano to practice was not something I missed. He still sometimes sits at the piano and plays my favorite "Silent Moon" (even better than before...) and I am holding back tears because each time I wonder if it is "the" last time I've heard him playing. Your post gives me hope.