If there was a soundtrack to my life, the last week or so would have a ghostly echo pounding through a driving bass line. The ghostly echo would say one word, over and over again: “Mindful, mindful, mindful”.
My mother will tell you I’ve always believed that we have the ability in ourselves to change our thoughts, and from there, to change our actions. When I was a child she went through a phase of calling herself stupid a lot. I believe in the power of words, so whenever she called herself stupid, or said she’d done something stupid, I’d hit her really hard with my fist on her shoulder. It became Pavlovian. She’d say stupid, I’d hit her. She soon stopped calling herself stupid, at least in my presence.
While I don’t advocate for violence, and would choose a different approach to physical assault these days, I still believe that our thoughts control our actions and with it the outcomes in our lives, and our minds can be trained to control our thoughts. I’m sure there’s a whole movement behind this, but I’m not familiar with it. I simply think that we can train our minds by conscious, mindful, choice.
Ameli is acting up, the soundtrack in my head says, ‘be mindful’. My husband and I aren’t communicating well? ‘Be mindful’. My diet is entirely desire led and not at all healthy? ‘Be mindful’. And so the ghostly echo in my head repeats, repeats, repeats.
But what does it mean, in my day to day reality?
Why do I feel like I’m drowning in things to do, yet when I have a spare moment and want to tackle one of those things, I can’t seem to figure out where to start? Why does it seem that my interactions with the people in my life are stressed out, highly strung, and impatient?
Because I am not being mindful. I am not making conscious choices. I’m being led by pregnancy induced insomnia. I’m being led by financial stress. I’m being led by the sadness I’m desperately trying to avoid: we’re coming up for Christmas and I have none of my family to share it with. I’m like a bull with a ring in its nose, being pulled from side to side by all these ‘things’ in my life.
I have lost sight of my mindful, conscious self.
I know what to do when my child is seemingly being ‘disobedient’. I need to focus in on her, rather than shout for control I give away by shouting. I know what to do when my husband is being husbandish. I need to focus in on his needs to see where he is being unfulfilled. I know that when my house looks like a hurricane passed through, it’s time to focus in on short bursts of major action.
I know these things, but while my head is screaming ‘what’s going on?!’, I’m unable to be useful to myself or my family, and over a period of days and weeks, I wake up more tired than I went to sleep and find myself in a rut. A dangerous, frustrated, unhappy place.
You may say, yes, but your child is being a ‘terrible two’, your husband is being husbandish, and you’re carrying all the responsibility of running a home while being pregnant – you need to be selfish and think of YOU – shut the door and leave them to self-destruct.
But that is counter productive, isn’t it, because an hour later, when I open the door, the problems are still there.
Yes. Perhaps the best course of action is to find yourself a corner for ‘quiet time’. For some this will be reading your Bible. For some, time in prayer. For others, meditation, introspection, or using cheap delta 8 carts. Whatever it is, but finding your ‘peaceful place’ gives you – or at least gives me – the power to then confront in a peaceful way, my family and my home. And you can find that peaceful place in the two minutes it takes to walk to the car, screaming toddler in tow. Your peace doesn’t depend on circumstances, or other people. It is yours. It is mine. I just have to claim it.
I am then able to implement ‘time-in’ instead of ‘time-out’. I’m able to connect with my husband. I’m able to focus on my to do list and find it less overwhelming. I am able to enjoy Christmas lights and hear carols and see men in red suits and feel the tinge of pain and of longing, without letting it own me and decide my emotions, and with it my interactions with the people I do have in my life.
My mother always used to say a tidy head loves a tidy home. I hated that saying, because my room was never tidy and in retrospect, neither was my head, but now I see it in a greater sense.
Being mindful of our own human condition helps us ‘make it through’ with much more peace and calm. When I am calm, I exude calm. When I am calm, I create calm. When I am at peace within myself, I have more patience to deal with my family.
When I am conscious of my own self, I am able to be conscious for those around me without being a martyr to their needs.
Mindful… Mindful… Mindful…
This doesn’t mean it will all always go well, or always be easy, but it means that you – that I – will have a better grasp on life, and with it, a better experience of that life.
Read more about mindfulness and parenting, especially in tough times:
Choice And Consequence In Conscious Mindfulness
What a beautiful post, and a wonderful reminder that we all need to have a peaceful place, and be at peace, so that we can create peace and calm within our home and family.
I really appreciate your article. I feel more mindful and centered just reading it.
I have to say, when I was pregnant I found it very hard to be mindful. I was very, very, very emotional (just ask my poor husband and older son), and frantic about getting things done “in time.” Things got better after the birth! I’m glad you’re finding ways to reconnect and recharge now; I just offer you that as hope for the future. 🙂
I also want to say that I’m amazed your mom let you train her out of saying “stupid.” That’s kind of hilarious.
@Lauren @ Hobo Mama, That’s lovely Lauren, thank you. I agree – I am more short tempered at the moment than I normally am, and I’m finding mindfulness incredibly difficult. But it’s about trying, and keeping on trying, you know? Eventually it has to become habit, right?
Thank you for participating in the Mindful Mama Carnival.
This is my constant practice, too. There are times when it is easier for me. Most of the time, I catch myself after I’ve been short with someone or fallen into negative self-talk. I truly appreciate you sharing this. Sometimes, it can seem so easy for others. It’s nice to remember that we’re all walking this path to mindfulness one step at a time.
@Zoie @ TouchstoneZ, You know, you are so right. I look at you and you seem to be so mindful all the time. It’s amazing to even think of you finding it hard 😉 It’s freeing, in a sense, to hear that others struggle too! Thanks for commenting!
For me, your post was a reminder that you don’t have to have your designated ‘me-time’ to find your centre. Any time can be my ‘me-time’, I just have to claim it…
@Tat, Thank you! You are right – any time can be me time – yet sometimes we still struggle to see it, you know? I ‘forget’ sometimes that it’s up to me!
I have to tell myself the same thing. My son is on the verge of the “terrible twos” and he does test me from time to time. But I know, I totally know, why he does what he does. And when I’m losing at at Target because he is sitting on the floor and refusing to hold my hand while we walk, I know that the problem is me, not him. I need to reconnect, to see his needs, I need to get into the moment, to just be whatever it is that he needs me to be right then instead of focusing on my needs and on getting done with my shopping list and my tasks. It honestly doesn’t take that long, and the shopping will wait.
Your post is a lovely reminder.
@Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction, Thank you Jenn. You are so right. Sometimes fighting them to get ‘our’ way takes so much longer than just letting them lead us to a more peaceful place!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! I think we all have difficulty forcing ourselves to take the time needed to find peace. At least I do. And I agree, that once it is found, everything runs smoother. I wish you a wonderful, peaceful Christmas!
@Free Range Mama, Than, you so much! I hope you have the same!
Wow, I really loved this post! I struggle with many of the issues you raised, and I agree that it’s up to me to find that peaceful place. I love the idea of taking that walk to the car as a time recenter. We often take 5 or 10 minutes to get to the car, so that should be plenty of time! Happy Holidays 🙂
@Sylvia@MaMammalia, I think finding ‘routine’ things to form a habit is a great idea. Kegels when then kettle’s boiling, mindfulness en route to the car etc etc 😉 has to become a habit some time!