Competitive Pagan = Competitive Parent?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about competitive people, especially when it comes to parenting and paganism. Whether in your coven, circle or class we are faced with competitive people in our spiritual domain as well as the domestic/mundane one.
Not being very competitive for the most part I’ve found that being a parent has brought out that shred of doubt in me. When I encounter another child at the playground that can already tie his shoes and my child of the same age hasn’t even attempted to try yet, there is a little pang for me. A slight, oh, man should I be teaching my kid this? Are they going to be lagging behind for not being able to do this already? Wise ones have said to me in these times of doubt: Can the other child do this yet, like your child? And usually the answer is, no. That way of putting things into perspective has been invaluable to me. No child is perfect, no child is better than another. They all have their own time and place to learn and we must simply be there to help and guide them.
In the pagan arena I’ve felt little of the same pangs of competition. I don’t mind if you’ve reached your 3rd degree faster, dried lavender and written a chant this week and I haven’t even managed to have a morning meditation. The spiritual journey is specific to the individual to me. I’m not trying to be pagan of the year. I just want to be true to my path. A little competition isn’t always a bad thing though. Reading about what other witches are trying these days, seeing examples of artwork dedicated to their gods, altars created for a season or books read for self exploration are inspirational. A pang of hey, why aren’t I doing that, is good for you. It is motivating and helps to keep your desires for your own path on track.
An extreme can develop in some people regarding parenting, paganism or anything really that is alarming to me. Motives become only about competition and not about your child’s journey or your own. You start to do things because the mother you most admire at your family coven does them like that. You feel the need to be better, more pagan, more like a super mom than a real mom. Because let’s face it no one is capable of being everything at one time. Often we project ideals on to those we admire and think that they are accomplishing more than us. Deep down though they probably have similar feelings of incompetence and are pushing themselves too hard, trying to be too much.
My philosophy of parenting and being a pagan is about honouring where I am in the moment and trying to accept what I can do. My priority at this point is being a parent. It is my full time job. My spiritual life is secondary and I have accepted that for now. Young children require energy and time. I’m not capable of taking a class with a pagan leader or dedicating myself to a tradition. I could try and do this but something would lag. Something would fall through the cracks and my son is too important for me to risk.
The moral to this story is that support and sharing of our doubts is an important step towards keeping competition out of our spiritual practice and our parenting. I won’t judge you for not having time to bring a snack for after the ritual, if you won’t judge my daughter for not knowing her ABC’s yet. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. Let’s live in a community that embraces each individual’s journey to self. That way we can leave the competitive feelings where they belong, in the boardroom or on the sports field.