It is one of ‘those’ buzzwords. Thrown out into the realms of social media highlighting the need for us all to be ‘mindful’ ; use ‘mindfulness’ or to ‘embrace mindfulness in your life’. Right now, I am flat out being less mindful of all I have to do. All the lists and tasks I need to get completed each week for each of my many roles; yet I am being propelled into to being more mindful.
I confess to reading one article on mindfulness and it left me feeling as though I was totally losing my shit because I was not mindful enough – like I did not care enough not only about myself but also about everyone else. Like I was inept in this modern day battle of motherhood, wifehood, workhood and attempted selfhood.
If I really sat and thought about everything, I think I would have paralysis from analysis. I not mocking the framework of mindfulness, because obviously it is effective for many people – I just don’t think I can organize or think about anything else I have to do without freaking out that my to do list is not actually unachievable. I have days, literally, where I am honestly shocked that my kids are alive and nourished, let alone the war zone that is my psyche. I am in constant battle that what I do is not enough. Not enough fruit, not enough protein, not enough water – and that is before breakfast. I constantly worry about how much I worry and about how little control I have in the lives of my kids – especially now that they are at school. It is like my influence is diminishing with each passing term, and will only probably heighten when they are need of mothering skills or insight. About how the pull of society will be upon them soon enough, and how the influx of information from news or public affairs is already sparking debate in their little minds.
I am mindful I think (no pun intended!) in many ways – I always think of cause, effect and consequence. I, in true motherhood style, put my needs last. I will not buy something for myself if my kids are in need. I will not use that ‘good’ perfume unless it is a darn special night. Right now I am mindful that all of that sounds particularly foolish. The special times of my life are right now. Right now and every day I am unconditionally loved by a small army of my own making. I know this will change, but right now, they need me – for me. They don’t care that I am not perfect – I am perfectly their mum. My shit in my head is exactly that – my shit. Yeah, I am tall; I have monkey long arms, wrinkles, saggy baggy bits and big feet. I am overweight, but I am strong, I am able to hold, soothe and cure almost all ills. I can hug all four at once (monkey long arms are useful!). And I am in a situation where I need to be careful about how I portray my inner demons as I don’t want them to be their demons. My demons are really normal, nothing fancy, home brand even. They are just things like – self worth, self-image and body image and self-doubt – so big players in the game that is life.
All of these aspects all fuel on doubt. And it comes back to the fact that we just don’t get enough praise for things that we do do – like get up every day and go to work, or get up full stop. Life is a battle some days. Motherhood or parenting is a battle – between so many parties. Society, ourselves, marriage, family and not to forget the tiny humans. Strong wills and stubborn streaks that stand at their full height of just over metre holding their ground and challenging you on everything. Employers who say ‘family friendly’ but mean differently. Having to take family leave and then feeling wracked with guilt because no matter what you choose you are letting someone down – an employer, a child, a spouse. The decisions, so many, every day. And so often I feel as though I am winging it – making it up as I go along, faking it until I make it. What yard measure do I have? None really – what are you actually supposed to ‘do’ in terms of educating your child? If you google it you will lose an hour or two and then cry.
I try to embrace my love for stationary and pens and use them for good (and enable my addiction). I make lists. I make lots of lists and I have a diary that is well worn and shows about everything so I don’t forget things. Because I have been that mother who has forgotten the white shirt because their child was supposed to be a sheep at the assembly (and madly run to the shops and come back, handed the shirt over and even tried to allude that said child left it at home….). I forget things; I recently even forgot a friend’s birthday (first time EVER and I still feel horrible); and I forget what kid is up to what in terms of school and their homework and their teachers (three different prep teachers and one grade three teacher).
I try not to lose my patience when I am working on homework with the kids, or just working through activities. Sometimes I just want to grab the pencil and do it for them, or cut it for them, so that it is done. But that is not teaching them anything other than the fact that their mum is impatient, insensitive, or even worse – that if they sit long enough, someone will do it for them. Days like this, I wish there was a book, or something, where I could just look up the index how to fix or deal with the said problem; or how to undertake it in the least disruptive manner.
I realise now that I started this post about being mindful. I ended up being minutely mindful. But I guess that is productive enough! I am mindful that I waste so much time re-thinking my parenting. I am mindful also that I am doing the best that I possibly can with what I have. I am also mindful that I will no doubt stuff up, have stuffed up, and will stuff up some more. I am ok, mostly, with this. Mainly because I have to be. I struggle some days to not overanalyze things – to make sure I am making the best decision for my kids – be it about their education, their nourishment or just their behaviour. It is so freaking difficult some days to make all the seemingly right decisions, choices or options that I just can’t bear to deconstruct it any more. I think I rationalize and support my decisions using an evidence-based approach – full of research and lots of hope. I hope that I am doing the best thing – and I will keep on hoping, trying and along the way stuffing up. I am so mindful of that.