March 2012

Weekly Wisdom #12

by cheryl on March 19, 2012

in Uncategorized, Weekly Wisdom

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller

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Our Greatest Teachers

Our Greatest Teachers

by cheryl on March 19, 2012

in 2mindfulmoms

I had always imagined that I would one day be a wise old lady, imparting profound words of wisdom about life and teaching my children how to navigate through it.   After twelve years of motherhood, I now realize that I have learned more from my children than I ever could have imagined.  They have become my greatest teachers.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did whatever I could to learn about the big job ahead of me – motherhood.   I took Lamaze classes and bought all of the latest books on pregnancy, sleep training, parenting philosophies and childhood illnesses.  After many months of preparation, I went to what would be my last OBGYN appointment only to learn that the baby had flipped himself to a breach position and that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.  I would need a c-section the next day.   At that moment, all of my planning and preparation for the way I wanted this birth to happen was down the tubes – no Lamaze breathing, no natural childbirth, no week to finish work and prepare for his arrival.

Similarly, after he arrived, all of my plans to mold and shape this little bundle of joy into a well-scheduled, sleep-through-the-night baby were also quickly forgotten.  No feeding schedules, no regular nighttime routines, no sleeping through the night were in our future.  Up to this point in my life, I worked hard in school and got good grades, worked hard in my job and got good performance reviews, and worked hard to keep my life well-planned, setting goals for myself and achieving them.  But this new role, motherhood, was going to be different.  The first lesson that I learned from my son was that despite my best efforts and best-laid plans, I was not in control.

The next lesson came quickly as well.   Much to my surprise, I learned that my role as a mom was not to shape and mold my children into the people I wanted them to be.  Instead, I would have a much different, more passive role in their development.   I have learned that my job is to love and nurture them, keep them safe from harm and simply watch them grow.  Parenting is like planting a garden.  We can water our plants to help them grow, add fertilizer to make them strong, and put them in the sunlight to help them thrive, all while trying to protect them from the dangers of hungry birds, animals and insects, but we cannot determine what type of plant will grow.  That is up to the seed itself.

Then came the most intriguing lesson of all.  My children are chock-full of great insight and wisdom.  All I have to do is be sure to listen.  When my son was four years old, he would cry and cling to my legs each morning at drop off, pleading not to leave him.  This routine broke my heart every day, until one day he looked into my eyes while I was giving him one last tight hug good-bye before the tears would begin to flow, and he said, “I’m OK mommy.  Just go.”  It was then that I realized through his simple, but incredibly insightful words that it was me who was having a difficult time letting him go and that he would be OK without me.

These words of wisdom from our children are everywhere if we just pay attention to them.  One rainy morning, on our way to school, I remarked to my children, “What a yukky day!”  My littlest child quickly replied, “It’s not yukky, it’s just raining.”  I have never looked at a rainy day quite the same since then.

More recently, my seven year old asked me if her Nana would be OK after she was diagnosed with cancer.  I replied, “I certainly hope so.”  My son then piped in, “You know that you can get very sick from even a common cold.”   To which my youngest child thought for a moment and then said, “Oh . . . (pause)  . . . what’s for lunch?”  This may sound like a silly conversation, but I found it to be quite profound.   As I listened to this exchange, I thought to myself, what a great way to look at life – to recognize that things happen which are completely out of our control and that often all that we can do is simply hope for the best and try not to worry so much about that which we cannot change, but instead live in the moment.  If only our minds could stay as clear and uncomplicated as the mind of a child.

As adults, we often dismiss our children’s insights as naïve and think that they are simply unable to comprehend the significance of the situation.  But instead, I think that we, as adults, often spend too much time worrying about all of the possibilities of what might be, making everything so complicated, and forgetting to notice what is right in front of us.

Our children have a magical way of staying connected to themselves and to the world around them.  We can all learn from them how to once again look at life with eyes untainted by judgment, cynicism and worry, to let go of our need to control what is or what will be and, instead, to live fully in each moment and enjoy the simple things that can be so amazing and so beautiful if we take the time to notice them.

 

**One of the most beautiful essays I have read about parenting is All My Babies Are Gone Now, by Anna Quindlen.  She writes from the perspective of having already lived through the ups and downs of mothering young children, and her insights looking back at those years are powerful.  She has inspired me to think more about parenting and about what parenthood is really all about.  Please check out her thoughts on parenthood by clicking here.

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Mind Full or Mindful?

Mind Full or Mindful?

by joanna on March 19, 2012

in Meditation

We love this.  It’s a great reminder to be more “mindful” and less “mind full”.  We hope you like it.

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All My Babies Are Gone Now

by Anna Quindlen

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education,all grown obsolete. Along with “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are”, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations–what they taught me, was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago pouring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China.  Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, “Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame.” The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded,”What did you get wrong?”.  (She insisted I include that.)  The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

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One of my favorite writers was Erma Bombeck.  She always had an amazing sense of humor about life.  Upon learning that she had cancer, she wrote a list of things that she regretted doing or not doing in her life.   I like to keep this list in my kitchen as a reminder to live each day to the fullest and to not sweat the small stuff!  If you haven’t read this, enjoy!  If you have, it is always worth reading again.

If I Had My Life To Live Over

by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck


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