Bovine Parenting Wisdom
By Vickie Falcone, M.A.
Part of our experience living across from a large cattle ranch in Colorado involved rounding up the occasional wandering cow. We came to expect and even enjoy these spontaneous round-ups since our ranching neighbors taught us the finer points of cattle moving.
One spring morning I drove by Willie, the rancher, waved hello and a few moments later, rounded a corner to find six calves frightened and confused in the road. Six mother cows were bellowing frantically inside the fence. I stopped the car and tried to shoo the babies back to the small opening they had come from, but they would not leave their mothers.
I then drove back to get Willie’s help. He instructed me to stand on the far side of the calves while he distracted the heifers by feeding them hay and clearing the way to open the gate. He then motioned me to move the calves toward the gate and they immediately hurried in. I imagined the mothers’ relief as they happily reunited with their babies. Instead, I turned to find the mothers contentedly EATING, not even a glance toward the gate! I was shocked.
“Willie, what happened to the frantic cows I drove by just a few minutes ago?”
“Food.” He quipped.
“You mean those cows’ instincts to eat are stronger than their instincts to protect their young?”
“Yup,” he answered without looking up.
What a lesson! Wherever did so many human mothers learn that we must give up our needs to care for our children, I wondered? Certainly not from Mother Nature!
We can only give our children what we possess, so it’s essential that we make it a priority to nourish and connect with ourselves on all levels. As parents, we can get so busy caring and providing for our families that we forget to care and provide for ourselves.
How Can We Become As Wise As Cows?
Have you done something today that helped you feel nurtured, loved, connected and fulfilled? If so, congratulations! You probably already have a good idea of what helps you connect to yourself. If not, it’s possible you just haven’t seen the importance of taking the time for connection in the context of your family’s well being.
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to nurture yourself. From that place of inner connection, connect with your family. There’s no more important piece of advice I can give you to dramatically improve the climate of your home. You must take the time to get centered and connected for three important reasons:
- You will bring more of you to your child: more joy, more love, more patience, more connection.
- Children learn primarily through modeling. If you take care of yourself, you’re more likely to raise a child who knows how to take care of herself, how to connect to her inner self and to others.
- We train people how to treat us. If you respect yourself, your child is more likely to respect you as well.
Give yourself permission and start small. Get support from your spouse and friends – ask them to give you a little cattle prod now and then to get you moving in the right direction! – and learn to ask for help before you burn out. Everyone will benefit.
Write down the five daily practices that help you find center—your “Happy Parent” list. (e.g. exercising, reading, meditating, talking with friends, having a cup of tea, journaling). Then ask yourself, “What stops me from taking care of myself: guilt, overwhelm, time constraints?” Get support for overcoming these obstacles to self-care. Then commit. Which one of the five daily practices will you commit to practicing tomorrow for at least fifteen minutes?
We all appreciate “good horse sense” when we see it in others. Now, perhaps we can cultivate a little bovine wisdom as well.
The most important gift we can give another person is our own inner peace. —Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.
If making a commitment to self care seems selfish or impossible, you owe it to yourself to learn more about the Life That Works! Weekend Personal Growth Program.
In this life-changing program, you will have the opportunity—in a safe and supportive environment–to discover and heal the patterns that have held you back from being the kind of parent you want to be and/or from creating the life that you want.