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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

mindful mothering

wow, so this meditation project is turning out to be worth its weight in deep thought!  i read about a mindfulness exercise in a book called "making a change for good" by zen master cheri huber.  the idea is that you tie a string around your finger to remind you to be in the here and now.  i've actually been meaning to do this exercise for a very long time and thought this three-week meditation challenge to be the ideal time to try.

i always wear my watch on my left wrist and switched it to my right.  (holy awkward.)  and its effect has been undeniable.  all day long i feel that out-of-place watch and all day long i remember to connect to breath.

now, i've got to admit - i was pretty mindful, even before this watch switching experiment.  i am very aware of my intimate connection with source and think about the power of my energy every day - honestly, almost all day long.  but nothing yanks me out of my awareness like my three young children...  children who inundate me with challenges in patience and self-control.

so i wanted this week of meditative practice to help me maintain balance with my family.  beautifully, my watch has brought me back to breath during every single melt down (mine and the kids').  i've consciously applied things i've read and learned this week specifically to motherhood.  and i realized something:  i need to spend more time teaching my children and less time feeling exasperated or burdened by them.

my affirmation this week is:  "MOMMY IS HERE FOR YOU."

we have to teach them this and remind them of this every day.  there are so many things that we skip over b/c we assume that our children understand the way the world works.  we assume that they can connect the dots on their own.  so when our kids make mistakes or participate in mindless, seemingly crazy behavior, we admonish them.  we shame them.  we tell them they've disappointed us.  we make our own children feel like they are disappointments, like they're stupid.  and then we continue to assume that they know we love them and are there for them.  [note: i say "we" because i am guilty of this.  and i have seen other people do this to their children as well.  but i do not assume that ALL mothers do this.  and kudos to those of you who intuitively know better.]

my personal example.  PG is coloring with sharpie on a napkin on my new (white) granite countertop.  i see what she is doing and my first inclination is to scream frantically, "ARE YOU NUTS?  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!  YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN MY KITCHEN!  YOU ARE 7 YEARS OLD!  YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER!"  but guess what, mommy dearest?  she doesn't know better.  she's just being creative and is not thinking about the damage her creativity can cause.  she means no harm.  she is just not tuned in to the consequences of sharpie meeting countertop.

so this time, instead of launching into my desperate victimized jane crawford routine, i feel my watch and take a breath.  i explain to her that sharpie bleeds through the thin paper of a napkin and can stain the surface underneath.  i tell her that stains do not come out.  i tell her that when she's 15, she'll be sitting here at the counter, looking at that old stain and thinking, "i can't believe i did that."  then i hide the sharpie, give her a crayon and send her back to work on that napkin.

instead of DEHUMANIZING her and SHAMING her, something i have done to her before and feel HORRIBLE about now, i taught her about cause and effect and encouraged her to think next time she pulls the cap off of a marker.  i taught her that sometimes thought-less behaviors can leave ugly stains (in this case literally).  through this teaching moment, i let my daughter know that i RESPECT HER LIFE and i am here for her.   and i taught myself that i am capable of mothering my children with mindfulness and patience.  (i'm bawling right now by the way.  this is a very difficult truth to overshare.)

we expect that our children can understand the complexity of life, the pressures of adulthood.  but they don't.  period.  they just aren't ready for it.  they don't have the capacity for it.  we parents think that because we drive them to soccer, because we buy them UGGS, because we kiss them goodnight, because we pack their lunches every day, that they should feel safe and loved and grateful.  but that's not how it works.  the only way they know they are loved is by learning this lesson: "MOMMY IS HERE FOR YOU."

i have a big chalkboard in my kitchen.  i typically use it to remind my kids to do things like brush their teeth, be kind to others, finish their homework.  but this week i am using it to remind myself of something.

peace, love, gratitude.


  1. You are a wonderful mommy! Your children are blessed that you are their momma. Being "here" is such a hard lesson to learn and it does take a conscious effort.

    I try to recognize that my little ones don't know why they put five syrups on the table at ihop. They don't know why there is a median in the middle of the road with grass and flowers. They don't know why daddy hung his weedeater on the wall of the garage. They really just don't know. I try to take the patience to tell them "why" when there are many times I just want to say "because".

    thank you for sharing this and helping bring my conscious back to "here".

  2. Good one V!!! Thanks for reminding us all :) xoxoxox And you are an amazing mommy :)

  3. Oh HUGE hugs to you V!! You are a great mom, and your kids are wonderful kids - and that is a tribute to you (and M, of course :))... But thanks for the reminder. I have to step back sometimes, and remind myself that I'm not my mother - who was insulting and great at making us feel shamed. It was her way. I try so much not to be that way, and just completely forget sometimes. Eeesh.... xoxo

  4. lol-ing, gypsy. thanks for the support, mommies. i'm doing the best i can. i'm so thankful for revelations like this. it's painful to hold up the mirror, but the reflection helps me learn and grow. xxxx

  5. LOVED that!!! i can't IMAGINE you having a major melt down...something tells me it would just be a few cross words xxx

  6. melted like a popsicle on the sidewalk, meg. ;-) xoxoxoxox