Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A childhood treasure for my baby

A stolen five minutes here, a stolen few minutes there, I will eventually get this done.  It will be a cushion when it's finished, one day when it is actually finished - it seems to be taking so long.  I will get it done though, for my littlest baby, a childhood treasure for her to treasure.  One day she may be sitting on her bed at university, a friend will reach over to pick up the cushion and comment on how sweet it is.  My littlest baby may respond with something like, "My mum made it for me when I was a baby", and with that comment she may be reminded of how much she means to me, she may look at the stitches and see my love for her embroidered in to the cloth.

In simple little stitches of pink, blue, yellow and red, I am drawing a picture of a house with people in it and surrounded by a cute little garden.  It is a home, not unlike ours, filled with people and a cute little garden.  This childhood treasure, like the others I have made for my other daughters, is not particularly skilful or imaginitive.  It comes from a place of love though, I think that counts.  It will be added to other treasures I will make over the years; to her baby photo album, a treasure box containing her first clothes and 'new baby' cards, and to the journal I started to keep for her the week I found out I was expecting her.  These treasures will be passed on to her the older she gets, she can take them with her when she leaves home.  She can tell that university friend her Mummy used to sit and stitch this cushion while I was having a nap as a baby, she would sit and think about the little girl I would become, she would sit and stitch this childhood treasure knowing that I was one of the most precious treasures she had in her life.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A story for mothers

Shall I tell you a story?  One day a woman with three young children, a long to-do list and dark circles under her eyes told herself that she was not allowed to do something that she really loved doing.  She told herself, in rather harsh tones (the same voice she used to shout at her children), to stop being so silly, who did she think she was anyway? and that she had far too many other important things to do.  She told herself that as a mother of three, soon to be returning to working outside of the home, she had no time to be indulging in her particular interest.  Her children needed her, every moment of the day, to take care of their needs and their comfort.  So she stopped doing what she loved, she 'put away those childish things'; literally - in a drawer, where she didn't have to see them because it was too painful.

Fortunately for her there was something inside her that would not give up so easily.  A small quiet, gentle little voice that listened to all these harsh reprimands and nodded sagely and admitted that she was, indeed, 'very busy', and her children did need her very much.  This quiet little voice also suggested in softer, kinder tones than she used with herself, that perhaps if she did do a little of the something that she loved very much, if she gave this to herself as a gift, then maybe she would do a better job with all those other things she had to do.  All those other roles she had to play.  If she allowed herself this thing she might perhaps be more of a whole person and that whole person (as opposed to a person with a hole inside her) might be more pleasant for her husband and children to be around.  The little voice reminded the woman listening intently that as the mother in the family she was the heart of that family and a heart with a hole in it does not function as well as a whole one.

The woman knew these words to be very true, deep down she knew.  So, she took her notebooks out of the drawer, she took up her pen, she switched on her computer, she opened up her heart and her mind.  She allowed herself to do what it is she most loves to do.  She gave herself this gift and she was grateful.  The words poured happily out of her as she gave them some time and some space to do so; the words were relieved that they had their channel back again.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The only parenting book you will ever need

'Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.' Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn'

This is it, the holy grail of parenting books.  I've read a lot of them.  This is the one that really spoke to my heart.  This is the one which resonated with me so much.  On every page I would read something that I knew deeply to be true.
 "The very fact that we are a parent is continually asking us to find and express what is most nourishing, most loving, most wise and caring in ourselves, to be, as much as we can, our best selves."
The authors share stories from their own family life raising three children, such inspiring and honest stories, not all of them about the things they got 'right' but they also share the times they got it 'wrong', when they weren't their best selves.  This is so encouraging, to be comforted and reassured by the knowledge that we won't always get it right, even if we are the 'mindful awareness' gurus of the literary world, but we can always learn from our experiences and try to do better next time.
"To attempt to see and honour the deep soul needs of our children as well as our own as best we can."

I could repeat so much of what I love about this book, but you just have to read it and take from it what resonates most with you.  What I can say though is that it has left me touched and moved.  It has left me with the overall feeling that no matter what choices we make as parents in how to raise our children you can't go too far off track if you act with gentleness and kindness and allow one's children a degree of 'sovereignty'.  This is a key term in the book which means that we help our children to develop into who they really are and respect that person and the choices they make.  Viewing our children as the unique individuals they are and giving them the space and the recognition they need.  This was very powerful for me.  I struggle with just backing off and allowing my children the freedom they need to become their own selves and, in truth, to distance themselves from me somewhat because that is what they will increasingly need to do.

As parents we don't need books to tell us about routines and the 'right' way to discipline children.  What this book has to offer is more profound.  In essence it reminds you that you love your children, so start with that and remember it even when they are rolling around on the floor in the middle of an all-consuming tantrum.  Stop, try to bring yourself in awareness and react from a calm place of love; I know, it's so hard, I've been there - a lot, it takes a lot of practice and strength.  I was soothed by the following words though,
"An important part of the process (of mindful parenting) is seeing ourselves with a degree of kindness and compassion."
This book is a wise old owl of a book, which embraces you in a loving cuddle and tells you to take it easy, parenting can be hard but also so joyful, take it moment by moment, be kind to your children and be kind to yourself.  It strokes your hand and plants a kiss on your cheek and tells you to keep trying, keep learning and reflecting and it will be alright, it will be alright.

Namaste Mr and Mrs Kabat-Zinn.