It’s 10 pm. The kids are in a screaming fight (for the millionth time that night) when they’re supposed to be in bed. The baby is exhausted and won’t stop crying, but refuses to sleep. The house is a disaster area and you have to be up at 5 am for work. You’re out of energy, patience, and hope. You just want this day to end.
Whether you have one kid or many, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a mom who works outside the home, if you’re a mommy, you know this feeling. Everyone says that motherhood is the best, but also the hardest job in the world, but you can’t truly know what that means until you’ve actually lived it. The beautiful challenges of motherhood don’t have to drag you under, however. Practicing mindfulness won’t magically transform the combat zone that motherhood often is into some perpetual fairyland. What it can do, though, is equip you with strategies for facing the challenges of motherhood with confidence, clarity, and calm.
What Is Mindfulness?
There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of mindfulness and no one “right” or proper way to practice it. For some, practicing mindfulness can be a daily practice of silent meditation or focused breathing. For others, it may be daily yoga or Pilates. It may involve prayer or chanting, or a hobby that relaxes and centers you and gives you joy—from writing or painting to dancing and singing.
Whatever mindfulness techniques work best for you, all that matters is that you incorporate strategies into your daily life that help restore your calm, refocus your mind, and recenter your spirit so that you can be a happier, more patient and more present mother for your children.
Overcoming the Traumas of the Past
The miraculous thing about motherhood is that not only does it allow you to nurture your children, but your children also end up nurturing you. As you learn to parent your own babies, the pains and traumas of your own childhood almost inevitably resurface, requiring you to deal with them, to put them to rest at last, so that you can be the mother your child needs and deserves. For many mothers, this can mean coming to terms with an absent, abusive, or addicted parent. Others must confront their own addiction to ensure that their babies start their lives as healthy and happy as they can possibly be.
Letting Go of the Fantasy
Many women prepare for motherhood carrying fantasies of mothering that they’ve nursed since childhood, playing house and snuggling with their baby dolls. Real honest-to-God motherhood, though, is definitely not child’s play.
On most days, it’s going to feel more like the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan than all seven seasons of Leave It to Beaver. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. When your child refuses to sit placidly in her stroller or dutifully transition to her crib, know this is not your failure as a mother. These are the pangs of creating a confident and joyous human being, one who has both a healthy sense of attachment and a strong measure of independence. You’re walking a fine balance and you’re earning your stripes, mama. And no matter how many times you might question or doubt yourself, know that loving and being there for your baby means, no matter what, you’re getting it right.
Body and Mind
In addition to focusing on the mind and spirit, mindfulness also means caring for the body. Let’s face it: it ain’t easy to grow another human being. Pregnancy is a significant trauma to the body, and it’s important to prepare for the inevitable physical changes and challenges that arise. Your body is simply not going to bounce back to its pre-pregnancy state immediately. It takes time for your physiology to re-calibrate.
In fact, you can expect the postpartum period to last at least as long as the pregnancy, during which time you’re likely to experience a range of unexpected symptoms, from joint pain to hair loss. Again, this is often a perfectly normal part of the process. Recognizing this period for what it is—your body’s process of healing and restoring itself—can help you feel at peace with the process and, hopefully, learn to be kinder to yourself and your miraculous body.
Even as you nurture your own body in the months following your little one’s birth, it’s also important to consider the special physical and emotional care your baby may require. One of the most significant concerns is the detection of food and environmental allergies. Studies show that food allergies affect nearly 10% of children, and those rates appear to be increasing. While some allergies may produce only mild to moderate symptoms, others can produce life-threatening reactions with only infinitesimal exposure to the allergen. Those with severe seafood or nut allergies, for example, can experience potentially fatal reactions from exposure to airborne particulates.
Motherhood truly is the most rewarding job in the world, but it’s also the toughest. Being a mom is the ultimate test of love and endurance. Practicing mindfulness, however, can help you to cope with the enormous challenges of mothering, enabling you to be the mom you want to be, the mom your children need you to be.
Photo is from pixabay
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.