Being mindful as a parent is hard. Most days, my attention is so focused outward that I don’t often pause to take that breath and be in my body and take in what is happening. Most days, I’m sandwiched between meal times, making meals, play dates, nap times, potty times, story times, reading, play dough, painting, music, most of which I love most of the time. In between all of this, I don’t pause enough. Its only when exhaustion, or hunger or a cranky mood hits that I stop to take note and do what is necessary: breathe!
My daughter now knows ‘breathe’ through peaceful piggy meditation book. She does ‘breathe’ like piggy when she gets upset, but only when I tell her to and then too, its more like a sound than a deep breath. It’s like that with me. Its only when I really need it that I remember. Sometimes that feels like I’m failing in my practice.
But then pauses happen naturally in my life in between all the activity.Like when I look at Anji’s face, her eyes lighting up with her dark hair framing her face as she says, ‘read it again!’ I feel a rush of love. I never want to take my eyes off. Or when she is sleeping curled up on her bed on her side, breathing deeply just the way she did as a baby, I feel this incredible sense of peace and wellbeing. Or when she dances and we hold hands and jump together to ‘the more we are together, the happier we’ll be’, I feel the music in my body. When we draw together with pastel crayons on a big blank sheet of paper, rapidly filling with her lines and mine coming together to make something beautiful, I feel joyful.
All these moments I forget when I am tired and don’t want to clean up or do the laundry one more time. Not the dishes again. Not making dinner again. Not get out of my bed again so early. But I always remember. When I pick her up and smell that amazing incredible scent that somehow children have – of pureness and love, everything comes back. I’m a Mama and that is my practice, to be present with all of it, the hardship and the amazing glorious moments. And when my mind spins in circles at the end of the day, buzzing with activity, I stop and remind myself – this is tiredness. I recount the moments that sparkled like the sun and the rain, and I relax again.
When I lose it, my patience or my perseverance, my daughter is my barometer. She brings me back again. My moods reflect on her as she climbs up the stairs after a difficult moment and sits on top waiting for me. Always, when I go up the steps, I remember. The incredible Love that seeps through my life touching everything, that is somehow marvelous and comforting.
Being mindful as a Mom is hard. I’m not mindful when I eat – I’m usually too hungry to wait, or while eating with Anji much more focused on her painstakingly slow nibbles than mine. Before I know it, the warm milk or my peanut butter toast is gone – and it is only at the last bite that I remember that I’m eating or drinking something!
But then there are few precious moments when we sit together on the table for lunch and I eat my noodles and Anji eats hers. The leaves fall outside in the breeze and Anji says, ‘leaves falling. Because it is Autumn’. I smile. Everything is all right.
With Love, S.