Spiritual Lessons in the Parenthood Trenches

creativity

There are things you learn as a parent you couldn’t possibly learn without kids. Funny things. Gross things. Things that if you allow yourself to be fully open and awake, can change your world forever. Things like…

Thou Shall Feel Guilt

but do it anyway.

Everything you do or don’t do will be scrutinized. It will be judged by others and worse by you. You will for a period of time try to do everything so that no one will hurt you, but it won’t work. Or it will for awhile and you will live a shell of an existence.

If you want to pursue a passion, you will probably feel guilt. That is because you love your kids more than your arm. But give all of yourself and you will be a dry and empty well. You will want to offer your children hope and possibility, but having stifled yourself all you will have is the bread crumbs of a lost dream.

I heard this quote from author AS Byatt in Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and found it in this The Guardian interview:

“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things.”

And Thou Shall Be Better for It

Saying motherhood changed me is in understatement. It’s the painful cracking open that made me realize I was doing more than wiping butts and feeding babies. For a long time, I believed that my children and everything that came with them was keeping me from the work of my life. One day, I dreamily thought to myself, one day they will be in school full-time and I will have time to write that book. I will have time to be a health coach. I will get to paint that picture.

That’s because the successful people I was reading and listening about only accomplished things when their kids were grown. I thought I had to suffer like a martyr and sacrifice, waiting to truly live my life.

And then I realized that they are the work. If I am attentive, if I can take care of myself, if I can learn to love and forgive myself, if I stay open when I am scared and doubt filled, if I can stay present, I will have accomplished what I dreamed about during those childless days working in a cubicle. All I wanted when I worked in that 9-5 job was a meaningful life. Your dreams sometimes come in a different package than you expect it.

Being a mother isn’t keeping me from my life. It’s pruning me for the life of my dreams. It’s a multidimensional season this parentdom. It’s stark and isolating as winter and as love giving and fruitful as spring. I have two young kids which means my time is limited. But that time is filled with precious moments of presence and laughter, and anguish and pain, all heightened because children make it so.

It is a gift you know. You might not feel it while wiping a butt, cheek, or smirk off your toddler’s face. But they are teaching you. They are teaching you that they matter, you matter, and that this moment matters. They are teaching you about the grim valleys where moments feel grueling cause they are filled with unlimited monotonous tasks like washing things. But in those valleys there is also time for rest, dreaming and being alive. They also remind us that creativity is important and what we do is important, more than what we teach.

There will be sad faces, and lots of guilty places when we take time to write, paint or read. Or there will be sacrifices to be made-favorite TV shows and sleep being switched out for our important personal work. But it all matters. You don’t have to give up your dreams. You only need to let life mold you so you have the knowledge, energy and love to push it forward.

Use your time to create the life you love by being fully present in every moment. Don’t wish away the time. Don’t spend it in jealousy on Facebook. Just keep being present. Just keep spending your precious free time doing what makes you better.

That’s the way you stay sane.

That’s the way you curate a well-lived life.

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From Monday Mom Blues to Monday Blooms

Motherhood MondaysA mom friend told me as a stay at home mom you have oodles of time to think, but do little else.

To be honest, it’s made me dread a whole fresh week of nothingness. When I first started as a full-time stay at home, I watched hours of mindless TV. But recently, all this unusable time has given me pockets of spirituality. It’s cultivated within me something that I never had before and didn’t know I needed. Time to sit, rest and be.

I no longer fear Mondays. In fact, I recently discovered 5 simple ways to transform every day from drudgery to delight, which is no small feat when you’re wiping butts, making meals, washing dishes, rinse and then repeat. There are still ways you can carve out time for yourself and look toward the week like a spiritual retreat. This will minimize your own mommy tantrums when you’re dealing with your kids all day. Add your own but start with these and see my other ideas in Meaning Making Mom.

  1. Listen to podcasts.

TGFP otherwise known as Thank Goodness for Podcasts! I love listening to Young House Love has a podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast, and podcasts from SoundsTrue. I do it while I’m putting away the dishes, picking up my son from school and walking the other son in the morning. Doing this makes me feel like I’m a human being not just a janitor, babysitter, and housecleaner. I get to learn something new, laugh, and discover my inner creativity. It’s like taking a class on life and makes me feel alive. I’d recommend a dose of podcast to anyone who’s stuck in the doldrums.

2.Write down everything you wish for yourself.

We often get caught up with hyperfocus on our children. It’s a worthy cause so why not? Well, our kids need us to have a life of our own or else we depend too much on them. Spending a few minutes writing down your bucket list, your dreams for yourself on both superficial and deep levels can be reinvigorating. You might not have time to not achieve all of them, but it will remind you that you and what you want matter too.

3. Look at something shiny and pretty.

Whether it’s a glass vase of fresh flowers, or your recently polished nails having something around that makes you feel good even when you haven’t brushed your hair or teeth yet, is soul nourishing and necessary.

4. Stop holding back.

I think the problem we have as mothers is a fear of being who we are. We don’t have a great career to broadcast to the world so sometimes we confuse our own accomplishments with that of our children. Because of that we hold back sharing how vulnerable we really feel, how we’re afraid of messing up, or how we’re struggling. Yet what we really yearn for is connection. I love what Immediate Fiction author Jerry Cleaver says about writing, “Push things to the limit, to the extreme…Creating more trouble forces your characters to use more of themselves. In using more, they reveal more. When they reveal more, you, the author, and the reader have a deeper experience of the character-identification.” When I read this passage I thought about how often we as mothers hold back our true selves. Not that we’re supposed to rob banks and murder for love, but that if we take more risks by saying what we really feel or taking a class we’re afraid of failing, we will achieve connection with others and ourselves.

5. Do one thing a day (minimum) for you.

Massages, manicures, all those would be great. But on a daily basis, you don’t have to do the big expensive things to feel good about you. Writing this blog, reading Immediate Fiction, and doing 10-minute exercises are enough to make me feel like I’m taking care of myself, which is like breathing air when you have two young kids.

This is just a small sampling, but I hope you will try it. We’re in this together dear friends. Motherhood is a battlefield, won with lots of love for our kids, but most importantly for each other.

 

 

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The Toddler Craft Project That Keeps On Giving

When you’ve got a spirited tot, planning a project that has multiple uses is ideal.

This is important to tuck away for: a) rainy days b) cancelled playdates c) when you’re too tired to do anything.

Thankfully, one of those days when all of the above was happening, I saw a potted plant nearby and thought fast.

Pinning my toddler in his high chair was also a smart idea. For a moment I actually felt like I was winning.

I gave him my terra cotta pot, his paints and a brush, and we were set for about half an hour. That was the first layer. Purple paint is what I hand on hand.

IMG_8007 When that was almost over, I got a second idea. Thank you God!

I remembered I had leftover chalk paint from this project and we painted a second layer. Yes!

IMG_8008

And if that wasn’t another half an hour used wisely, this painted pot plant kept giving and giving. After it dried, he still could draw on it with chalk.

FullSizeRender (9)Yes I know I’m overly enthused, but finding one project will multiple tasks that has the ability to sustain a toddler is like hitting the jackpot. Am I right?

 

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