It is said, "Having children will change you." I never thought that this would be true for me. I thought it was one of those things that people just said to scare or caution you about having kids. I can tell you today that this is one of those true-isms. I can tell you that having children has changed me as a person, an Aikidoist and as a teacher. I am also sure it is different for everyone.
How did it change me? It made me come to truly understand O Sensei's philosophy non-violence. Every person is somebody's baby.
Upon having children I came to know fear as I worry constantly about my children's welfare. I wonder almost obsessively about their welfare and their future. This constant worry is how I came to know attachment.
From a Buddhist or martial arts perspective, attachment is bad. One should not let their mind abide on any one thing. But on the other hand, as Aikido teacher has said, "Attachment is power." Attachment is one of those things that makes life worth living. Without my attachment to my kids, I would not have learned about non-violence and I would definitely not have come to understand compassion and ultimately O Sensei's teachings of love.
If thought of one of my children being hurt is painful to me then it is a natural extension to realize that every person is somebody's baby. If I don't want my kids hurt then why would I hurt somebody else's child.
To be able to give compassion or live, one must understand it first. Having children has allowed me the gift of that understanding. Now it is up to me to manifest it in not only Aikido, but in every aspect of my life.