Mindfulness and Mothering

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This week was challenging as we continued to pack up our belongings in anticipation for the big move. The one thing I have learned through this is that it doesn’t matter how present I try to be or how uncluttered I attempt to keep my life, being both mindful and minimalist takes effort. In fact, I’m certain I’ve included items in these boxes I don’t really need or love – and I know I’ve been super stressed over living in a ‘mess’ for what seems now like weeks.

I’m sure once the habits are ingrained, it becomes simpler. But, as with any new endeavor, it takes time to break old habits and create new ones. Because I will no longer work from home in my new position, I’ve been ‘practicing’ going to bed earlier and getting up at 7 am. Soon, I’ll get up at 6:45, then 6:30 – until I’ve made it part of my life to rise at 6 am. This will give me ample time to have a morning quiet time with a cup of coffee, drive to the office and start work on time. I’m not really a morning person, but I am a “I like my quiet time” person, which is why I’m developing this new habit.

Another interesting thing that has become more apparent this week is the ability to be more present. As most of the distractions are packed away, our needs have been few and our wants almost non-existent, I find I’m listening more.

As an example: my son has recently developed this ‘noise’ he makes when he’s tired. I say he recently developed it. This (rather annoying) sound has most likely been his M.O. for some time now – although I must have been too busy to notice. If he doesn’t take an afternoon nap, by 6:30 pm he starts getting cranky and by 7 pm starts making this whiny “mmmmm”  sound. The first night I noticed it, I was irritated. What an annoying sound. “Stop making that noise, please.” I asked. When he didn’t, I threatened to make him a drink and put him to bed. He grabbed his lovey and motioned toward the microwave. (Yes, he still takes a nightly bottle. And yes, I microwave it. Don’t. Judge. Me.) True to my word, off to bed I ‘forced’ him to go….pleased that he fell asleep shortly thereafter.

The next night, I had a visitor. My son started in on that noise about 7:30 pm (I think he’s quit the ‘afternoon nap’ thing altogether). Again, I was annoyed by the sound (it truly is annoying. Trust me.) but I asked my friend to wait while I fixed him a bottle and put him to bed. Again, no arguments over bedtime, no jumping in the bed….just him and his lovey – sound asleep in about ten minutes.

Third night in a row. “MMMMM”. This time I breathed in and out. I looked at the clock. 6:45 pm. No nap and he had gotten up at 7:00 am. I said, “Are you sleepy, honey?” He grabbed his lovey and I began the ritual: bottle, book, bed. No annoyance. No keeping him up until his actual ‘bedtime’. Just an open heart, a clear mind, and an awareness of his needs.

I’ve been preoccupied; too busy for so many nights. People will often tell you what they want you to know, but most often not in words. Being present is hard – I get this. I’m sure it will take more practice. I’m sure I’ll miss the mark when I have a deadline at work or feel a bit stressed over other areas in my life. But I truly hope this lesson sticks because my son has been a lot more sweet and less cranky now that he realizes I’m starting to understand him. And I’ve had a bit more time to relax at night, too, since he’s been going to bed earlier.

What ways have you been practicing mindfulness lately? Have you missed something that someone you love is ‘telling you’ simply because you’ve been distracted?