Friday, July 25, 2014

Your Mother and Mine

"Some people come into your life as blessings. Some come into your life as lessons." Mother Theresa

This post is dedicated to every mother. In every shape, color, gender, and form, a mother is anyone who cares for, nurtures and tends to another soul in an effort to help them grow stronger, share love, show kindness and instill a need to learn their purpose and passion in this world. To me, this is a pretty tall order. My shoulders are heavy with the responsibility of raising two boys in an uncertain environment. Moment to moment, my wavering words hold truth, my aching body shows action, and my cloudy mind should be clear and confident. The stress of work, home, and life can smother the simple, sweet, mothering I want to provide. There are days I want to bury my head in the safety and security of my mother's arms. I want to be held tightly and told everything is going to be alright. The weight bears down harder and it feels the whole world needs a mother to wrap her arms wide around the universe for a healing hug.

A mother is the most wonderful person in the world; 

She's the angel voice that bids you goodnight,
Kisses your cheek, whispers, "sleep tight."

The helping hand that guides you along
Whether you're right, whether you're wrong.

What makes mothers all that they are?

Might as well ask, "What makes a star?"

Ask your heart to tell you her worth,
Your heart will say, "Heaven on earth."

Another word for divine,
Your mother and mine.

Peter Pan

I read recently that a mother has the ability to set the tone of her home. This topic intrigued me as I feel I am wandering in circles, picking up the pieces, in a constant state of mess, just trying to keep up. As a mother of boys, my home is a wild place, akin to a jungle filled with roaring lions, trumpeting elephants, and hissing snakes. Sometimes the sun is shining down, and then a tropical thunderstorm soaks you down to your bones. My head spins with questions, wants, and needs, it feels like little birds squawking at me, singing the Beatles song, "All through the day, I me mine, I me mine, I me mine. All through the night, I me mine, I me mine, I me mine...."

I want to be the steady, strong, and disciplined mother my children need me to be, but life happens, emotions happen and I can't always hold it together. There are times when I don't know what to do or what to say. When my patience is gone, my anger builds, I feel worn down, I have no energy to give anymore. I want to runaway and "Let it go", building my own ice castle to hide in like Queen Elsa in Frozen. I know my life isn't a Disney movie, the daily grind has no real happy ending, but if I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I have the power to change things.

I don't want to worry, fear or become angry. I am a flawed person filled with insecurity about how to mother two beautiful human beings. I don't want to screw it up, they are the children of our future, mine and yours. This is a lot of pressure to put on myself. I know that my children learn quickly from my actions. If I say an inappropriate word, stomp my foot or bang my fist down, my children are doing it the next day. When balancing the effort of calm and the effort of anger, it seems the energy put into both is the same, so I need to choose: explode and encourage a path of anger, impatience and violence or pave a road filled with light, love, and peace.  Here are some tips I have learned to stay cool in heated situations.

Breathe. Close your eyes and take a long deep breath in through your nose. Hold the breath in for a few seconds and then consciously exhale very slowly through the mouth or the nose. Do this five or ten more times until you feel more relaxed. Reconnect to the situation, remember you have the power to take control in your thoughts, actions and responses. This is a great strategy to teach your children, slow down, calm down and gain control over emotions.

Take a time-out. If you feel ready to snap, do whatever is necessary to immediately remove yourself from the situation. Close your eyes, go to another room, take a moment before you react. Put the kids in their room for quiet time, take a hot bath or shower, get away for an errand or a walk around the block. There have been situations of frustration where there is no one else to lean on and it's just me and the boys. I have closed myself in a closet while my two year old is screaming outside of it. Taking some solace in a moment to myself, to collect my thoughts before responding to that raw power of an enraged toddler.

Clean something.  When I am upset, I get my best cleaning done. It's usually the stuff that has been building up and needs to be attacked. Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning out a closet, or scrubbing the floor are good ways to take out some anger. Get outside, change your environment, adjust your surroundings. Get into your garden. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, pulling up weeds, and hauling bags of dirt can burn some serious calories. You feel a lot better when you are done, instead of feeling remorseful after you have yelled at your kids or your spouse.

Create space for yourself. Schedule time to do something for yourself. Take a yoga or exercise class. Go for a swim, a run, a hike in the woods, getting out into nature can lift your mood and refresh your spirit. Engaging in some physical activity enhances the endorphins in your body and is a natural stress reliever. Use your support systems, find balance in your relationships, there is beauty in the shared responsibilities of parenthood; respect and dignity will ensue. When my husband has any free time, which is rare, he likes to go mountain biking. When he returns he feels renewed, more engaged and present, ready to take on whatever comes next, and our boys do come on like a hurricane.

Stay flexible. Staying open to possibilities that exist in the moment. Stay awake to your life. This is your meditation, reflect before you react. Know you have choices. Becoming a rigid parent has limited benefits for you and your children. Before you answer, "no" or "yes", take a pause, explore the question, concern and potential outcome of the circumstance. Experience all of your life, the good, the bad, the ugly.  This is the spark and spontaneity of living.

  • Find forgiveness.  Give yourself permission to move on. None of us are perfect. It is the beauty of our mistakes that make us better people. It's just a bad day, not a bad life. Don't over-exaggerate an issue, lessons need to happen and mostly they happen through experience. Acknowledge your feelings in the moment, tell yourself, "I'm really angry right now, and it's okay." When you validate your feelings, communication and grace come easier as well. 

    When evening comes, I say a prayer. I clear space in my mind and my heart, I make room for myself and for others. I send out my prayer into the unknown and hope my healing thoughts and words go where they are needed most.

    In a world full of troubling turmoil, there needs to be a place of refuge. Find solace, find your inner calm, find love for yourself, for others, and for all creation.

    Is there room in my heart
    For you to follow your heart
    And not need more blood
    From the tip of your star

    Is there room in my heart 
    For you to follow your heart 
    And not need more blood 
    From the tip of your star

    Tori Amos

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