So what am I here to say about this business of parenting and the practice of mindfulness? Of being a single, divorced mama of two teenage boys?
I’m confused, all the time. I never know what’s the right thing to do or say.
I feel torn watching them drift further and further into their own lives and away from mine. Proud. Scared. Glad. Grateful. A tight, little ball forms in my chest when I think about how much they mean to me. There are no words. Yes, even when they are driving me fucking crazy. Pushing for later curfews and sleeping over at so and so’s house (I was always up to no good when I was sleeping at so and so’s house). Cell phones, video games and headphones, a barrier, a battleground an escape, sometimes from me. Sometimes for me. Harsh sarcastic humor that acts as armor in a world that’s often hard to understand.
What a gift to know them, and be a part of their messy, weird, confused, brilliant lives. Probably the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
So I’m all in.
I want to have a sense of humor about this whole mama thing. My favorite parenting reads are funny and offer perspective (other people laughing about the things I’m freaking out over reminds me it’s ok to relax. A little.). Which can in turn draw me out of the “I’m in this alone and I’m totally fucking up” vortex. It also helps the part of me who is a worrier and a control freak get my shit (oh dang, there she is) under control.
This might be a good time to mention that I know—I know nothing is under my control. And still, I try. Really hard. I’m madly in love with my guys and all I really really want is for them to be happy and never ever have to experience anything bad or hard, or repeat my mistakes and I want for them to be happier, more successful, basically, better than I am (which is a complete disservice to them by the way). Also I want them to be normalish, and at the same time let their freak flag fly. I understand that it’s not their job to make me feel good about myself as a parent and human being and yet, the common thinking is that if my kids are fucked up, it’s my fault. I would of course be the leader of that marching band. Self-flagellation is one of my natural born talents.
Enter mindfulness. How we treat ourselves, most definitely reflects how we treat our children (or our mate or our friends, coworkers, ex-husband, parents, siblings, etc…). Or maybe it would be more revealing to say, how we treat the people in our lives is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
Oooo. Ahhhh. Ouch. I offer helpful suggestions (try to fix and change), I get tense about mistakes and wonder how things could have been done (should have been done differently), I get raging mad when I feel ignored, dismissed, stepped over.
I want to be funny, and what I actually am is earnest. Bloody earnest. I like the way that sounds. Bloody earnest. It means I’m sincere and pretty deep about it. This job calls for laughter and lots of it.
Hell, this life calls for laughter and lots of it.
Today I’m venturing into a mindful parenting series here at the love letter projects. Just to see what might be revealed about the ever changing relationships we have with our children. The relationships we are creating with them. The relationship we desire to have with them. Not always the same thing. This is an intro of sorts. Let’s call this the first of five. Yeah, I just made that number up.
A mindfully funny (earnest) exploration (sharing) of parenting, in my case, teenage boys. Please join me. Share in the comments. Your wisdom, your successes and your flat-on-your-face messes. We’re in this together. You are not alone. And hey, if you are a teen or a young adult, please jump in! Hearing your thoughts and experiences would be valuable beyond measure.
4 thoughts on “Creating connections with our kids: mindfulness and parenting”
Parenthood. Once your in that club, you never get out!….Seriously, I never saw coming all the opportunities, whether I wanted them or not, to get to know myself. The good, the bad and the really, really ugly. My son is 5 now, and I say that with some pride and relief.
On the heals of his birth, came yet another invitation for growth, the kind that involved pain and some messy unraveling. When he was born, part of me assumed the role of that hideous creature from Lord of the Rings, you know… Golem. “My precious….” became a kind of subconscious mantra. And though I surely thought at the time that what I was protecting was my son, it looks in retrospect more like my ego protecting itself. My highly treasured beliefs, hard one, loyal and persisitent came up against their greatest threat ever…he miracle of a new life. And fatigue like I’d never known. And in that brightness, that gift, my poor little ego and all its beliefs, ghosts and cleverly disguised fears, trembled. I suppose they never had a chance. For a while though, I fought, I did everything the way I decided was best, most prudent, safest. Only I could do it right, protect him from all real (and imagined) dangers, be mommy of the year! Of course, love was there too. In spades. But in my earnestness to be the best mom, I wore myself out. Slowly, mercilessly, I abandoned myself. It all came to a sputtering, pitiful hault, for a while.
But as the grace of the universe wills it, help came. It was not perfect, (my mind insists) , but it was just enough. It was perfect and compassionate and ever present. And I am forever grateful to the souls that met me in that hour. Fast forward to today, and of course I have had to choose a different relationship with myself, my son and the world. The learning had to be applied and it is indeed a work in progress. All this came on the heals of motherhood, perhaps the most wonderful and difficult experience in my life. Motherhood and by extension life, feels more now like a deep exploration and remembering, guided lovingly by obvious and invisible forces. I still need to remind myself about allot of things but there is more trust now. Maybe they start as good habits that with care land deep and become a knowing. What are the “right” answers? Maybe, its better to ask the right questions. In the end, is it possible no one and nothing stands to judge me or anyone else? I cannot always make an awesome dinner, be available, have a neat house, be on time to school… But is it not also good that he sees his mother working to be more loving and forgiving to herself and by natural extension, everyone else? I will forget sometimes and be completely and righteously annoyed, impatient, angry, clueless, full of shit. But its my prayer to self, to return to mindfulness, forgiveness, love, yes-ness as soon as I can. With deep gratitdue. Thank You Wendy. Love, love, love. -K
Holy shit this is so beautiful and open and vulnerable (and funny)! I’m replying with tears falling. So touched am I to be a witness to all you have shared. And yes, “good (healing, healthy, loving) habits that with care land deep and become a knowing”. So true. Yes, questioning the “right answers” and maybe asking different questions. Always a great reminder for me. Right here, right now, it was a reminder I was needing.
One of my all time favorite quotes remains “I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now…the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. –Rainer Maria Rilke
Yes to the grace of the universe and your ability to see it. Yes to being full of shit and your ability to see that too.
Yes to all of it. Thank you for sharing. You are so freaking brave! For me, I think my heart just opened a little bit more. I wonder how it was for you?
You rock. You’re welcome. And sending buckets of love right back at you.
I love your post and your photo with your 2 boys 😊 Your thoughts are honest, open and full of heart. What you say about control really resonated with me. I’m the mum of a 1 year old little boy and hope that I have your strength and self awareness by the time he’s a teen.
Thank you! This parenting thing really is the most beautiful, challenging, heart opening journey I’ve ever been on. I had no idea what it would require of me when I was contemplating a sweet little one of my own. Probably that’s a good thing. And, I’d have it no other way. My guys spent last week with their Dad and my house was CLEAN, and I loved it. They’re back, it’s a mess again and I love it even more. This morning I actually woke up and thought, “I love this mess”. 🙂
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