Parenting is challenging.
Sometimes we’re parenting a child. Maybe we are biologically connected to the child that we’re parenting. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe we adopted them. Maybe we fell in love with one or both of their parents. Maybe we’re in their extended family (biological or chosen).
Sometimes we’re parenting ourselves. Maybe we didn’t get the kind of love we needed as children. Maybe we did! Maybe we’ve lost a parent. Maybe we just know that we continue to need parenting throughout our lives, and we’ve chosen to take on that sacred role of caregiving for ourselves, within ourselves. Maybe we are extending the loving parenting we received, and maybe we are healing trauma.
Sometimes we’re parenting in some other way – bringing a project or an idea or a dream into the world and then nurturing its growth.
Parenting is challenging in all of these contexts.
Here is a spread to offer some guidance as we parent!
Image description: A drawing of a 5-card spread (described below) and a small purple flower with a green stem, brown roots, and blue water lines.
I designed this spread from the perspective that parenting is both something we are (a part of our identity), and also something we do (a set of actions the result from that identity), and that when we are doing parenting, we are working towards the highest good of the life we are caring for.
This is certainly not the only way to view parenting, and I am particularly conscious of the fact that not everyone views parenting as part of their identity – so the first card, “Being a Parent,” can also be interpreted as the way you are viewed in your parental role.
I designed this spread on Mother’s Day, because I wanted to create something that could reflect my own experience and orientation to the idea of parenting – I am a non-binary person in a nesting relationship with someone who has two kids half the time. I’m not legally any kind of parent, but I’m functionally a stepparent.
Alright, let’s dive into this!
As always, I fully support choosing these cards intentionally or drawing them after shuffling, and I also think that there is so much room to draw further cards, swap cards out, and otherwise engage in a conversation with your cards. Parenting is, in my experience both parenting myself and parenting these two stepsquids, in a constant state of flux. It is always a conversation between dreams and reality, between conflicting needs and resources, between the self and the other, the self and the young self, the self and the echoes of our own parents. Let that complexity and flux be present in this spread!
1 – Being a Parent. This card represents you as a parent – either your interpretation of how parenting is part of your identity, or how other people perceive you because of your parenting role. If you want, you can draw two cards – one for the internal sense of identity, and one for the external perception.
2 – Doing Parenting. This card represents how you are doing the actions of parenting, and offers an invitation to consider the impact of those actions. What are you doing as you parent? This is another position that invites a second card – one for what you are doing, and one for what you might consider doing.
3 – Nurture. What are you invited to nurture in the child in your life, in the child in yourself, in the project or idea you are bringing up?
4 – Validate. What are you invited to validate? This is so important for those of us parenting children or parenting ourselves. What is present in the experience of this person that may be hard to see or believe? What are they/we feeling, noticing, experiencing that is not finding validation elsewhere? Allow the person you are parenting to be the expert in their own experience.
5 – Witness. Part of parenting involves witnessing the growth that results from our nurturing and validating actions. Especially if we are parenting a child or a project, witnessing how they operate in the world and allowing ourselves to hold a decentered role – to be on the outside of that, witnessing it – is so important. And even when we are parenting ourselves, releasing our own desire to control the outcome and witnessing how we move through the world can be such a healing step.
Let me know if you try this spread out!
Here is the spread that I drew for parents on the margins on Mother’s Day this year.
Being a parent: The Devil. Text on the card reads ‘Justice is not blind’ and ‘when silence equals profit.’ Being a parent in this time of ecological, economic, and political collapse and injustice means seeing and fighting against this. Cristy C. Road writes, ‘how do we evade systems of oppression in eras of destitution?’ That’s the question for us as parents.
Doing parenting: Wheel of Fortune. ‘Keep spinning until you feel totally safe.’ In the *doing* of parenting there is a push for change, to turn the wheel, to make choices, to think twice, to ask the hard questions.
To nurture: Page of Wands. Nurture the bravery and power of whoever it is we are parenting.
To validate: Revolution. Validate the rage and energy of whoever we are parenting. Validate their/our truth, and the the refusal to continue to support systems of injustice. Text on the card reads, ‘defend the sacred.’ Validate that.
To witness: King of Wands. Nurture those first steps in bravery and power, and then witness the results. The King of Wands ‘doesn’t fear the journey toward enlightenment and global security; he is present for every step of the ride.’
Parenting on the margins can feel exhausting, overwhelming, isolating, terrifying. I found this spread encouraging and demanding. This work, however we do it, whoever we do it for, is good work. Hard work. Revolutionary work.