Last week I blogged in the afterglow of a glorious, fairytale-perfect day with my terrific two-year-old. This week, I blog from a far more familiar place: that of a frazzled mom on the brink (and this is two days post-vacation). Perhaps I’m better equipped, in many respects, to talk about “keeping your cool in the fray,” as I believe I put it.
Mindful parenting. There you have it. Of course, being a mindful parent — a mindful person — is difficult. In fact, it’s so difficult that people dedicate their entire lives to such pursuits. Namely Buddhists. But while Buddhism is certainly not a one-size-fits-all ideology, I think most parents, if they understood what it means to be a mindful parent, would find that it’s the kind of parent they want to be (or already are): present, empathetic, empowering, compassionate, and authentic, among other things. In a nutshell, mindful parenting is about being in the moment, where you can best learn who your child is as an individual, and give them the best opportunities — as that individual — to grow into a secure, independent adult. Plus, it helps keep you from getting stuck in an ineffectual, frustrated rut.
I’m in the middle of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn, and I have to say it’s a game-changer. They offer not only a clear, strong argument for why it pays to be mindful, but they explain how one becomes mindful, as step-by-step as they can. I’ve been applying what I’ve learned so far and it’s made a huge difference, not in who I am or who Coraline is, but in how I see her, myself, and our relationship. Our day-to-day is still often trying (she is only two), but I haven’t raised my voice in a week, and that’s something I’m very excited about.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindful parenting, Bethany Saltman — a local parenting columnist and senior student at the Zen Mountain Monastery — will lead a discussion at Illuminated Baby in Woodstock sometime next month. Check in (via email or Facebook) to be notified when the date is set. Hope to see you there!