You have to find a mother inside yourself,
We all do. Even if we already have a mother,
we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
A few years ago, when I was in the thick of single motherhood, I found a wonderful book-- Momfulness- Mothering with Compassion, Wisdom, and Grace by Denise Roy. What I loved about this book when I first devoured it was its focus on forgiveness and acceptance for mothering right where you are and the encouragement to suspend judgment of yourself as a mother. Finding compassion, wisdom, and grace in the midst of the craziness of parenthood is not an easy task. She offers a practical spiritual practice that can easily fit within any religious practice. I pulled this book out today, so I can revisit it as I work to regain balance. Organizing the physical space in which we live is only part of a very important process I know is necessary for our family to function smoothly. I know that my job as a mother is to keep compassion, wisdom, and grace as the driving forces in my interactions with everyone in our house. I've posted in the past that since Rowan's arrival, balance has been quite elusive, and I know that creates situations where Momfulness is key.
Throughout my pregnancy with Rowan, Hubs and I frequently talked about the changes that bringing a baby into our lives would create. The other kids had become quite self-sufficient, and we knew that the adjustment would come with growing pains. Despite having that awareness, I was not prepared for just how hard it would be. I had grown quite accustomed to life with my boy-os and having time to do fun things with them, to take them places, to just spend one-on-one time with them. All of that went out of the window with Rowan's arrival. She is a true high needs baby, and an HNB (as we affectionately call her) in the family precludes many activities. Even walking to the crosswalk to walk home with the boys when she was a newborn was a monumental task! I feel like I've lost so much time with my boys, and luckily they are awesome kids. They haven't been jealous of her, and they have been so very flexible with the adjustments we've had to make.
Though Rowan is still very much an HNB, at nine months, she is finally starting to settle into life outside the womb. As long as I'm within a few feet of her, she will happily play. And probably the biggest accomplishment is she is finally napping consistently and for more than 20 minutes at a time. This major milestone is wonderful because I am focusing on finding balance in the time I spend with them. It is easy to judge myself for feeling like I have faltered in my parenting of them. This is coming on the heels of both of them being very attached to their dad, and sometimes I can't help but take it personally. In rereading the first chapter today, I realize that I have to be gentle with myself and acknowledge that I have done my best. But I also come away with the awareness that I can focus on finding compassion, wisdom, and grace in all of my experiences with them.
During Rowan's naptime today and yesterday, the boy-os and I played with one of their Christmas presents. We mixed plaster, filled molds, and painted the dinosaurs.
They are so gratifying and easy to please. And pretty cute, too!
My favorite quote from today's chapter:
In practicing Momfulness, we cultivate compassion, not only for others but also for ourselves. We increase our ability to see our own suffering-- how tired we are, how hard we are working, how much we don't know. We develop the capacity to forgive ourselves, and to give ourselves some of what we need. Our hearts open, and we make friends with even the most difficult experiences of our lives.
This is such a very powerful passage and several parts almost move me to tears. I am making a promise to myself to focus on these three things.
Forgiveness: How great would it be if, as mothers (or simply people) we could forgive ourselves?
How much we don't know: Even as a third-time mom, it is hard to admit that I don't know all of the right answers.
What we (I as a mom) need: I need to exist as my own person, too, not just as "Mom." In order to be the best mom I can be, I must take care of myself. I'm working on this one, too, in my focus on regaining balance.
I'm excited about this journey!
That's all for today!