This week I finished reading a little book from the library called Trees Make the Best Mobiles. The book is primarily geared towards first time parents of infants and didn't cover a lot of new ground for me, but there were a couple of good reminders in it about present, mindful parenting.
Regarding time with our children: "They offer us a chance, not only to quell past demons, but to leave behind the pressures of the day. With them, we can be our best selves: alert, vibrant, and generous--and fully alive in the present tense."
And, with regard to children learning your behaviors: "Make sure that what your child is absorbing isn't your ragged, frustrated, or furious self, but your best self. And when it's not, let him know that you know, and that you'll try harder next time."
Unfortunately, I think I often do show my "ragged" self and am NOT necessarily my best, alert and vibrant self. When I think about it, I feel like I was my best and most vibrant self when I worked for the Ronald McD House. Part of me genuinely feels that my personality is not well-suited for stay-at-home-mothering and that my mind/personality is better matched to being really deeply invested in a purposeful job/career outside the home. However, my HEART will not allow me to invest that deepness outside of my family while my kids are little and so clearly need to be with me. I am compelled to be with them and care for them myself and that seems irreconcilable with outside employment for me. The push-pull is big though and sometimes my sense of loss over work that I loved and in which I was my best and most vibrant self is really strong. The best balance I can manage is do birth work in my "spare" time--my passion for that and my purpose in that, brings back my feeling of being my "best and most vibrant self." I actually feel more deeply connected--mission and purpose and passion wise--to birth work than I did at RMHC, but I have to squeeze it into some very small cracks in my life at this point in time. I have long struggled with what I feel like is a conflict between parenting and "personing." I'll keep working on it, because I do want my boys to see my vibrant self! (and, I think, part of them seeing my vibrant, full self, is my giving myself permission to pursue some outside-of-mothering stuff like teaching birth classes and also giving myself permission to get into the moment with mothering and let the other stuff fall away, while I invest in truly being there with them instead of thinking about my "to-do list" or my other goals).
A relevant quote:
"Each time you say, 'I need another minute to finish this...,' you squander a moment with your child, never to be reclaimed."
I confess, though this is another good reminder, it annoyed me. There is a little too much "romanticizing" of parenting implicit within it. I thought of all the times when I've said "I just need another minute to..." Hmmm. Go to the BATHROOM! Finish fixing breakfast, put the baby to sleep, help someone else go to the bathroom, talk to my husband--the love of my life... I guess each could be seen as "squandering" and I have an inner monitor in my head that lets me know that! But, get real, sometimes you really DO need another minute to "finish this" and there is no reason to get all blamey about it! (I also confess that my defensiveness here is also about the times I do say "just a minute" when it really ISN'T that important and I could drop what I'm doing to meet their needs--but is it always actual needs, or sometimes just a nonstop desire for parental entertainment?)
And along those lines, another quote:
"Keep in mind, too, that life isn't all entertainment--even when you're only three...Allowing them to become bored means letting them draw on their own resources. It means trusting them to make their own fun. A child who can reach inside herself for amusement or consolation is a child who is truly plugged in."
And a final reminder:
"What we all crave is to be seen, really seen, and through that seeing, know ourselves. We spend much of our life--in work, love, friendship, and sometimes even in therapy--trying to achieve this."
So, look when they call "watch me!"
Yesterday, I also finished reading a tiny little book called The Best of Oprah's What I Know for Sure (this was one of my little daily, post-yoga inspirational reads). I liked this quote immensely:
"The world can only value mothering to the extent that women everywhere stand and declare that it must be so."