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A lesson in optimism by Misha Lyuve

Oct 10, 2015

When I asked my son what’s his favorite movie, he answered: “the one I haven’t seen yet.” I am learning

Sense of bliss by Misha Lyuve

Aug 10, 2015

One of my most favorites times of the day is when I put kids to bed. The girls crawl all over me before they quiet down and fall asleep. I put time on pause. I try really hard to remember this moment, hopefully forever. And every time these fragments of perfection just quietly slip into the abyss of memory. What remains is the sense of bliss.

Treasure by Misha Lyuve

Jun 10, 2015

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Lesson of a new parent #3: Love the mystery by Misha Lyuve

Oct 31, 2014

Matisse at MOMA

When at the end of his life Henry Matisse, couldn’t stand up and paint, he dedicated himself to art of scissors and developed series of cutouts, currently presented at the Museum of Modern of Art in New York City. The exhibition, full of child-like optimism, reminded me that while art might have an explanation, it’s not the point – the deliciousness of art experience lies purely in art’s mystery.

In fact, I was reminded of that by my two 11-month old daughters whom I brought with me. They didn’t express any interest in headphone lectures, the neat fonts of wall explanations or even artwork titles. But you should’ve seen them: they were ecstatic; they pointed at the art work with their hands; they stared into the shapes and vocalized their excitement. Had there been an opportunity, they would’ve touched them and even ate them.

This exhibition evoked a very similar emotional reaction in me. But I was consumed with something else – I desperately wanted to understand: what exactly are they seeing? What specifically they are reacting to? What’s happening inside of their cute little heads?

I have to admit that these questions have been following me all along. Many parents find the process of child development fascinating – because it truly is. And we want to know – so we read books and consult specialists; and then we come up with questions, seek explanations and look for answers. And often that is what a good parent should do. But not always.

Some time in the middle of the exhibition I let go of my unanswerable unnecessary questions and embraced my children’s mystery. One of my daughter was sitting in the carrier close to my heart and we were standing right in front of a Matisse’s whimsical masterpiece. And this double mystery felt like heaven.

Lesson #3: Love the mystery – stop asking questions; observe and enjoy instead.

This post is a part of Lessons of a new parent cycle. (If you missed, here is Lesson of a new parent #2 – Reciprocity)

Mattisse

Photography by Laurie Lewis

Lessons of a new parent. #2: Reciprocity by Misha Lyuve

Apr 29, 2014

This post is a part of Lessons of a new parent cycle. (If you missed, here is Lesson of a new parent. #1 – Happiness)

Lesson #2: Reciprocity – relationship with your child, as any other relationship, has elements of give and take; pay attention to what you are taking.

It was a fairly cold February day during my paternity leave. Myself I wouldn’t even consider going out in such cold unless I really had to. But with the kids, there was hardly a question in my head – the kids loved being (or to be more precise, sleeping) outside.

As usual, Central Park embraced me with its winter solemn beauty and, on a cold day like this, it was desolate – very much to my liking. On the way home I reflected on how much I enjoyed this walk and arrived to the following question: while it seemed like I took my daughters for a walk, was it in reality visa versa – were they the ones taking me out?
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It is common to think about parenting as something one gives: whether it is food, comfort, entertainment or education; while a reward comes in a form of a child’s response (from a smile to an acknowledgement) or an accomplishment (from the  first step to college graduation.) But that walk in the park pointed me to a much more profound parent-child relationship exchange.

When my kids request my attention, I find ways to engage them; but in return they provide me with entertainment, and let me assure you, it’s top notch. On the surface it might seem that I am there to teach them something, but truthfully in this short time my kids have shared with me most profound lessons. They started even before I met them during my adoption journey and continue to this day (thus Lessons of a new parent). And on top as you already know, they take me on awesome walks.

When I acknowledged this reciprocity, the relationship with my children became that much deeper and more fulfilling. Notice what your children give you.

Lessons of a new parent. #1: Happiness by Misha Lyuve

Mar 27, 2014

You can speak to your children of life,
But your words are not life itself…
Don’t mistake your desire to talk for their readiness to listen.
Far more important are the wordless truths they learn from you

“The Parent’s Tao Te Ching”, William Martin

Lesson #1 – Happiness: If you have at least a small interest in your child’s happiness, be a happy person yourself.

I always treated my personal happiness and satisfaction as something indulgent and selfish, pertaining only to me.

One day I was upset about something. It was time to start feeding one of my daughters. I sat down holding her and watched her hungrily latching on to the nipple of the bottle. About half-way through her meal, I saw that I was still upset and many “frustrated” thoughts were rolling inside my head in circles. And then I noticed how my frustration was floating from my head down into my arm, from my arm into the bottle and from the bottle right into her little mouth. And this all while my heart, soaked in anger and disappointment, was pulsing against her little head. This observation was awakening.

At that exact moment it became unequivocally clear that my happiness or unhappiness for that matter doesn’t belong only to me. My personal happiness, fulfillment and peace had much bigger impact than I ever imagined.

Shortly after gaining this understanding, I watched an interview with Osho “If People Are Happy Nobody Can Drag Them Into a War”. Osho talked about a generation of parents that lived sacrificing their happiness for their children. Those children learned how to sacrifice, but not how to be happy. And the martyrdom went on and on, and at the end NO ONE got to be happy.

This comes down to a very simple truth – if you want your kid to know how to be happy, you have to become an embodiment of fulfillment, life satisfaction and joy yourself. Let’s not underestimate the task: happiness is not a state in which most humans find themselves naturally at a snap of their fingers. But it doesn’t mean it is not available. By the way, The Slight Edge, a book by Jeff Olson I recently read, has some practical ways of applying discipline and conscious living to make happiness into a daily practice.

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