I remember what it was like when my kids were small. I would wake up in the morning with sort of a plan. I figured I would do some laundry, cook and play some piano. As soon as the kids were out the door and the baby was sleeping I’d go to the kitchen to get some pasta started and in the meantime do a load of wash. Of course when I got to the kitchen I was reminded that dishes had piled up over the past two days because the baby had kept me up with his ear infection and I got home from a teacher’s meeting too tired to care.
If this is starting to sound familiar, read on
Where was I? Oh yes! No sooner did I dig into the dishes for breakfast when I realized it’s already time for lunch. I forgot altogether to put the clothes in the dryer (which by the way had just gone through a second wash since I had forgotten them in the washing machine the night before). Time to pick up my four year old from pre-school, who needed my full attention, and suddenly before I knew it the day got filled up with homework and snacks and preparing lunches for tomorrow. In walked my husband, who wanted dinner. “You don’t really want dinner, do you dear?”
Motherhood is a lifetime project. Even though I loved my kids, there were plenty of times I felt I wasn’t really there. I can well understand one mom’s blog post about how she woke to her senses after overhearing her child say that he had given up on calling her to read him a bedtime story. He stopped calling when he realized that she was grumpy about doing it. There’s nothing grumpier than a frustrated mother.
One of the ways we deal with our frustrations is to quote slogans. Take this one, for example, by Viktor Frankl. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” We recite these slogans and we share them on Facebook, but do we act like we believe it’s true?
When we change ourselves, the world really does change around us. Yet, change is elusive. Sure, when all you’re doing is going through the motions instead of living your life, change is elusive. Similarly, well-being is elusive. It’s no wonder motherhood seems to make your brains turn to mush.
However, it is possible to put mindfulness into mothering. I’m not talking about the mindfulness of being in the here-and-now. I’m talking about putting conscious intention into what you are doing in the here-and-now and knowing why you are doing it.
For example, now that my kids are grown, I can look back proudly with hindsight, certain that my perseverance instilled perseverance in them, and that this helped them to become the top notch artists they are today. I look back and see that my belief in them helped them to believe in themselves and that my attention to their little hurts helped turn them into the warm and caring people they are today.
I can’t take all the credit for their successes any more than I can take all the blame for their mistakes. (That always brings me to me senses!) They worked hard, and they had help from above.
Yet, I know that everything I did mattered. It had an impact. As a mother, you are above all an educator. You model God-ly qualities (or not). Therefore my one piece of advice for you is this: Use foresight to consciously ask yourself: “What will be the consequence of what I’m about to say or do right now?” “What will it do to my kids in the long run?” In this way, you put intention into what would otherwise be a mindless act.
So let yourself dream a little. Imagine how the gentle way you are treating the spilled milk incident will one day transform them into exemplary people. Know that your efforts can and do make a difference in the world and will make a difference in years to come.
One day you, too will look back proudly with hindsight.