When my daughter was a baby I was in overdrive. I worked outside the home, in a job that required 50 hours of time on a slow week and up to 70 hours of my time during crunch weeks. While I was being Super Career Woman, I was also determined that I would be Super Mom too. The problem was, I didn’t quite understand what being Super Mom truly meant.
For the first couple years of my daughter’s life, being Super Mom equated to what I now consider incredibly superficial and ultimately irrelevant things. Things that in the big picture absolutely don’t matter. Things that my daughter won’t remember or know unless I tell her. Things like being determined to cloth diaper, making *all* of her baby food from scratch, only allowing organic foods to enter her body and dear gosh there would never be sugar anywhere near her. No TV either. And all her toys would be wooden and there wouldn’t be a commercial character anywhere in sight. And of course all her clothes would be made of organic cotton or bamboo.
I laugh now at how much I just did.not.get.it. How I put such emphasis on these things that have nothing to do with our relationship or connection. I overwhelmed myself doing all the “right” things, when perhaps allowing myself to be human and having faith that my child would survive to see her next birthday, even if she did play with a plastic Disney Princess tea set. I focused on the outside things, not the inside things. I lost myself a bit, thinking that if I controlled all these outside things *that* would mean I was good mama. And dear god, I so desperately wanted to be a good mama.
Fast forward to today. This morning my daughter ate Oreos for breakfast (hey, she had organic milk with them, so it’s okay). She was outside in her pool before 10am and before the temperature had reached 65F. I did manage to get some apples and sunflower seed butter in her before she snacked on a cupcake. Lunch consisted of chili cheese fritos, a hamburger patty, three green beans and then some more cookies and milk. Yep, I’m going for that Mother of Year award, Nutrition division.
I played Barbies with her today. We did some painting together. We snuggled and watched a couple of TV shows. We cleaned our living room, dining room and kitchen today, without tears or screaming. I gave her lots of hugs and asked her for help and mentioned how she always makes the shoe rack look extra awesome when she organizes it.
We had a great day.
I finally have it (mostly) right. It’s not the outside stuff, like whether every meal is fully nutritionally balanced or whether she has branded character toys, it’s the inside stuff – the fact that we played together, that we created together, that we worked as a team cleaning our home – that matters.
It was quite a process of letting go and realizing what truly matters and what doesn’t. I was guided by not only my own instinct, but also by great mama writers and bloggers. Women who have been there and done that. Women like those in the Mindful Parenting eBundle (note this is an affiliate link – I appreciate your support). Parents and organizations who know what is important for us to focus on our relationship and connection to our children and all the rest is truly small stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. The passage of time. How much time we have. How little time we have.
It’s the nondual truth that we have both all the time in the world and only this present moment now. Thinking about how important it is to be present in this now-moment, not to make it “count,” rather to savor it, enjoy it, have those around me savoring and enjoying.
As I talked about in my newsletter this week, we are moving into our summer rhythm. Our days, while full, have also slowed down. There isn’t a need to be anywhere by any certain time. We can spend the day at home, sitting out in the sun when it’s out or curled up cuddling, reading books or watching tv if it’s not. There’s not a rush to get any particular meal on the table by any certain time and yet we always manage eat together. One moment seems to endlessly roll into the next in an easy fashion that keeps us all calm and at peace.
Except those moments that don’t, of course. Those moments where frustration presents itself for whatever reasons and we work through it, finding our centers, getting ourselves grounded again in the beauty and love that we share.
Focusing on connection has been my priority for this year and it has come through in so many amazing ways. I’m more connected to myself and to the present moment, which leads me to being more connected to those I share my life with. I feel the deep connections with my daughter, husband and close friends, growing and expanding. I’m finding myself more at peace with my life, despite the “hardships” we are facing. I have a trust in the Universe that we are all going to be just fine, a trust that grows deeper each day.
I’m not finding myself focused on the future or worried about the details of how everything will work itself out. I simply know it will. I do what I can to move forward and then I release the attempts at control over the things that are not in my power to do anything about. This release is so healing.
Releasing and moving into Trust, that is what these last few months have been for me. And it’s been amazing.
On Sunday, after seeing her overflowing Easter basket when she woke up, which included a 2-foot chocolate bunny, our daughter announced “You and daddy are the Easter Bunny!” Nick and I were in shock and asked her why she thought that and said things like “Would mama and daddy ever buy you that much candy at once??” all of which she gave a very narrow eyed knowing look to. We didn’t initially fess up to anything. We both want the magic of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus to last as long as possible. We both enjoy the beauty of it all, of doing something extra special for our girl and not taking the credit. I hoped the conversation was dropped, with Nick and I neither admitting or denying anything.
Then in the car on the way to my cousin’s for the annual Easter egg hunt and brunch, she asked if her Daddy and I were the Easter Bunny. I again asked her why she thought that and we discussed it. She had That Look in her eye — that look that says “I’m trusting you to tell me the truth. I’m ready for the truth” and so I admitted that yes, her Daddy and I are the Easter Bunny. I didn’t say anything about the Tooth Fairy or Santa. To be fair, she didn’t ask about them and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there in six months or so.
Reality sunk in. My baby is growing up. She turns six next week and I’m filled with a mixture of joy, awe and sadness. The mystery of the Easter Bunny is solved and I realized in talking with Nick later that it was around this same age that I figured out that Santa wasn’t real, though in a very painful way, which involved my parents refusing to be honest with me and even threatening that Santa wouldn’t come if I didn’t believe.
I didn’t talk with my girl about the magic of the holidays and what the Easter Bunny (or Santa or the Tooth Fairy) represent to me or to her Daddy. We didn’t get into that conversation, however I’m sure we will at some point.
What was important on Sunday was that, when I looked in my girl’s eyes and saw how much she wanted and needed the Truth, I gave it to her. I’ve accepted that my child is both a little girl and growing into a very young woman. While only almost six, those pre-teen and then teen years do not seem so far away. The first six years of her life have been filled with Nick and me building strong attachment bonds with her, with each other and keeping open doorways for communication. The next six years will be filled with the same, as will the six after that and six after that and so on.
I’ve realized that what is key, what is most important is recognizing her individuality. Knowing that her childhood is nothing like mine. Knowing that I have learned much from the painful lessons of the relationship with my own mom. Knowing I am studying, for a career, about child development, attachment and families. Knowing I have tools and practices that were never available to my own mom and thereby knowing I will not follow in her footsteps.
My baby is growing up. She’s a child now. There’s no denying it. In the way she talks, her interests, how she can figure it all out. She’s independent, confident and has an inner spark and glow in her eyes that had left my own eyes by her age.
And while she is growing up into this beautiful person, and while she is no longer literally a baby, she will always be my baby. I will always be here for her when she wants or needs me. I will love her beyond the end of our days. I will always be on her side. She’s my girl.
One of the songs I sing to her at bedtime is You are My Sunshine (with my own lyrics). The closing line is “I love you more and more every day.” It’s true. Every day I love my girl a little more than the day before and every day I can’t imagine how I could love her more without my heart literally bursting. Yet every day I do. Every day.
Understanding and acknowledging and accepting her individuality, her personhood has been a huge part of our parenting. Treating her with respect. Allowing her to be a child while never treating her as if she is less because of her age. Parenting this way is hard, it requires me to dig deep almost daily and face my own past, my own fears with bravery and grace and a willingness to own my shit and grow as a person. It’s a tall order and some days I’m better at it than others. Some days are filled with apologies, tears and repairing measures while others are filled with laughter, connection and joy.
And so my girl grows from a little girl to a big girl. And our journey continues…
My mindfulness practice has had the greatest impact on my ability to be the parent I want to be. I want to share this practice, and the tools I’ve found and developed with it with everyone who is ready to grow into the person your Soul is calling you to be. My Grounding in Grace e-course is filled with mindfulness exercises as well as reflection and soul work. And I’m very excited about the video prompts I’ve been working on for this course. Because I strongly believe that to bring peace to the world we must start in our home, and because I so deeply do not want finances to prevent a single person from taking this course if she or he is ready, the program is Pay-What-Feels-Good and I also have scholarships available. For more information about the course and to register click here. The course starts on April 9th and runs for 30 days. I would love to have you join the amazing community that is growing around this program.
There’s been a lot of talk about support in my world lately. I have a big issue with the word support. Support to me, is about others helping you stay right where you are, not having someone who helps to grow, helps you change, helps you look deep inside of who you are and how you want to change.
Sometimes I need those pats on the back and those you-go-girls. Most of the time however, I need nourishing: I need people who will gently point out my role in the dance I’m frustrated with, who will gently, yet firmly, shift me from a place of blaming the other towards looking inside myself and how I have contributed to the relationship.
There’s a phrase, it takes two to tango. And it certainly does.
The thing is, we can’t control the other dancer. We can’t make the other take the steps we want him or her to take and we can’t make him or her dance a waltz if they are determined to dance a polka.
We can look at ourselves. We can determine how we want to enter the dance floor. We can breathe in our own truth and recognize the truth of another. We can enter the dance with an open heart, or not.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in blaming the other. It’s easy to see all the faults and mistakes of our dance partner. What’s hard stopping and looking deep within. Sometimes we need another person to help us with that.
My husband seems to have this all figured out. He knows when I need someone to simply love me, to give me space to cry and be sad and have a little temper tantrum about how life is not fair. And he has a special knack of reigning me in when I start to board the Blame Train. He does more than support me, he helps me grow. To paraphrase a line from a movie “He makes me want to be a better person”. And he helps me be that better person.
He nourishes me.
I have friends who do this too. Who gently point out when I’m being a wee bit crazy, when I’m totally off my center, when I’m looking outside for truth and not inside. These women are my sisters, one of them in blood and all of them in my Soul. They live in different parts of the world and my contact with them all varies. And yet I know they will always be there for me, to help me be the person I want to be.
These Sisters nourish me.
They will be there in times of crisis too. When it really is just about support, having someone to keep me safe, someone who can help me hold my life together. Times of crisis are not times for growth, they are truly times for support, times of being stable.
Every day life isn’t crisis. Everyday life is about growth and being that person you are deeply called to be. Are you surrounded by people who help you reflect and look deep inside yourself? Or are you surrounded by people who keep you stuck in patterns and behaviors and relationships that don’t nourish you?
I’m here to provide nourishment for you. Nourishment for your soul. Nourishment so you can grow and become the beautiful and amazing person you are called to be.
The last session of Centering in Community starts in just a couple days (February 5), and registration closes that same day. This is an amazing program that provides you with exercises to get back in your body and back to your center and reflection topics to look deep at who you are truly called to be. It’s pay-what-feels-good and go at your own pace. I would love to have you join our growing community.