The Gift of Mothering

hey diddle diddle…

Sunday was Mother’s Day and…I did a lot of mothering. It just turned out that way. Some things went down (no trouble, just life) and presence is what was required. ⁣

⁣A lot of what I do as a mother is that I am present. I am available. I listen…as best I can. Turns out I’m so easily distractible! I use the other’s face and sound of voice as dristi/focus points and keep coming back. Compassion is a helpful motivator. ⁣

When I have thoughts or perspective I try to offer them in a respectful way that is translatable. At the right time. To help navigate. Sometimes I do this better than others. Yet more than anything I am just here. ⁣

Parenting in a pandemic is hard. There is a lot to face and continuous hard choices to make. Kids and young adults want to be with their friends and from what we have been told so far they are likely not at high risk. ⁣

Yet their lives that are just beginning are being seemingly derailed to keep safe the elders, many of whom have already lived long lives, and the immune compromised…like myself.

There are conflicting motivations for sure, and most of what we are going on is speculation at this point. It’s hard to make choices in this climate and then have to live with whatever that brings. Once again, always true. Yet accentuated. ⁣

Late high school and college age kids are deciding if they want to sign up for major debt while trying to plan their future when nothing seems clear. We just paid for likely the highest priced online schooling so far in history while having the highly anticipated freshman year experience cut off with no warning after moving cross country together to make it happen! Each of us has our own unique story…⁣

These kids have worked so hard doing what they have been told they have to do only to have the rules change at the last moment. I suppose we are all experiencing this but it is really accentuated for the upcoming generations about to step into the world as adults on their own. ⁣

Although there is this…they have experienced the old way and yet are not already as ingrained in their life path. Perhaps they can more easily adapt to life as it presents going forward. Without the same preconceptions of how things are supposed to or have to be. They can help evolve the old to meet the new. ⁣

This is what I will encourage. ⁣

In myself, my child and whoever else I encounter. Whether the new way is full of roadblocks, newfound possibilities, or both. We may not be able to recreate the future in the image of the past, we will have to adapt. Yet the more seamlessly we can do this with fresh, open eyes the more likely we are to succeed in the new environment. ⁣

Perhaps this is post covid parenting. Expectation, entitlement and arrogance will only get in the way. We have to keep adapting as quickly as the world around us. Once again, this is not new, but even more so. ⁣

It seems…people want accolades and congratulatory pampering about their parenting. It is helpful to support the caregivers, yet remember, mother’s day was at least in part developed as a consumer holiday with a political agenda. Every day can be appreciation day! Yet that’s not why I parent.⁣

While I sure could use a massage or a delicious meal I didn’t make myself sometimes, the real gift I receive is the parenting itself…learning how to adapt and meet my child and a situation right where they are. Not in the way I think I want things to be. As they are. And respond to that.

When I stop fighting or forcing I can better see what we have to work with. I see my child as a being with needs that are trying to express…and I can help or hinder that.⁣

For being a mother…is really about mothering. It is something you give. The potential-yet-not-guaranteed reward is the connection, and your child. You give without knowing what, if anything, you’re going to get. In my case, I have given a lot. And been given back so so very much. Not always what I thought or expected, and sometimes so far beyond what I could have imagined.

It’s not for everyone, parenting, and at times seems not for me! Yet once you’re in it there is no easy out. We adapt or we suffer. And we pass that on.

Once again, this is not new. But accentuated. ⁣

We are all presented with this opportunity right now – evolve together or get stuck trying to force things to be some preconceived way. In parenting and in this post covid world. Same thing, accentuated.⁣

I…am going to keep trying to meet things with fresh, open eyes, and continuously, consciously adapt to the situation as it presents itself. I don’t already know better, I am learning as I go.⁣

In life and parenting.⁣

This is my precious Mother’s Day gift.⁣

♥️

Framing

Thoughts upon awakening:

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I do not want to allow challenges from the past to negatively define how I envision my potential moving forward. I want to utilize the perspective and wisdom I learn through all my experiences to inspire me to be adaptive and resilient, to inform me of ways I can continue to grow with discernment, empathy and grace.

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How we perceive things is greatly dependent upon the frame we see it through.

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Every experience relevant, a springboard for the alchemy of transformation.

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Planting seeds, observing how they grow, refining as I go.

desire as inspiration

When you desire something and become attached to the attainment of what you think you want it can be depleting. And torturous. Yet when you desire and don’t need to attain it can be rejuvenating. And inspiring. Which doesn’t mean you won’t receive what you desire or put any effort towards it, it just means you don’t believe you have to attain or strive in order to be okay.
Do you feel the difference?
I am starting to more and more of the time.

what i get when i let go…

When I become aware that I am chasing something, often because either I’m not getting what I think I want and/or I am exhausting myself by trying so hard, if I am able to let go and soften back into myself, making space for what I was chasing to come to me or not, I feel a sense of peace and release that can be more sustaining than when I get what I think I want by grasping for it.
Sometimes in this place of calm and openness I get what I thought I wanted anyway. And even if I don’t, I’m okay. Because I became willing to let it go.

true freedom

One of my favorite physical aspects of practicing yoga is that there is nowhere on my back I cannot scratch (I am not suggesting this is true for everyone who practices yoga :-) ). One of my favorite mental aspects is the possibility that even when I feel an itch, I can feel it and not have to scratch.
I can, but I don’t have to.
This becomes more true all the time.

Skillful Use of the Past

Someone asked me hopefully the other day, “It’s all about being in the now, isn’t it?  We’re always either stuck in the past or living in the future, but we just need to be in the now, right?” Which seems to be a common mantra right about now, and in its essence, holds a lot of truth. 

I’m reminded of Utah Phillips’ and Ani DiFranco’s song, Bridges, on the album The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere, when Utah says, “I always thought that anybody who told me I couldn’t live in the past was trying to get me to forget something that if I remembered it would get them into serious trouble…” (if you’ve never heard the song check it out here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Bridges/iTzz7?src=5 and really listen to the words).

I find it useful to make a distinction between living in the past, or being stuck in the past, from how Utah describes the past as informing the present, and that the lessons of the past are available to us in the present when we are open to accessing them.  And what Buddhist monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu refers to as a skillful use of the past in his insightful and practical writings on meditation and how the lessons we learn through meditation translate into and are applicable to the rest of our lives (which are distributed for free online here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/meditations2.html).

A skillful use of the past means paying attention to intentions and actions and noticing the results as they unfold in the present moment, allowing discernment, perspective, and wisdom to grow as the present becomes the past, preparing us to deal as skillfully as possible as the future becomes the present. While each moment is a completely new experience, for the variables have never come together exactly as it is right now, the present is created by the past and directs where we are going in the future.  It’s all a continuum.

“Time is an enormous long river…and I am standing in it just as you are standing in it…My elders were the tributaries, and everything they thought, and every struggle they went through…flows down to me…And if I take the time to seek…I can build that bridge between my world and theirs…I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world…bridges…from my time to your time, as my elders from their time to my time…” Utah Phillips…

Being in the now is not tunnel vision, it includes an awareness of all that came before and all that will become in the future, in the peripheral vision, like a visual dristhi in asana, or physical yoga practice.  By focusing on the present, or the breath, or the visual focus point, we still see everything in the periphery, without having to stare or block anything out either.  We are focused at the center.  Which helps keep us from getting thrown off balance.

“We all put into the river, and it flows away from us…till it no longer has our name, our identity, it has its own utility, its own use, and people will take what they need and make it part of their lives…” U.P.

choice

It is not always easy to know the next right thing to do.  It can backfire to simply rely on a preconceived idea of right and wrong, for the nuances of each circumstance are too subtle for that.  So I work to keep myself as strong and clear as I can so I can be sensitive to the particularities of each situation.  Noticing with as little judgement as possible, with compassion, empathy, AND discernment.  Aware of my own intention.  Willing to shift when I realize I am out of harmony, even when that is after the fact.  Even when it becomes clear that the appropriate action is counter to the stock answer.  Moving from a place of love and respect over greed.  As best I can, each moment a new chance to try again.  Experiential wisdom – paying attention and learning as we go.