Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mindful Mothering

Motherhood is the most important work I have encountered. The moment Jack was born and I saw the doctor holding his little blue body my heart stopped. It was only an instant before he screamed and turned a sweet shade of pink. Right then I knew my life had changed forever. 

Jack and Grace are now at ages where motherhood responsibilities have shifted. I do not have to spoon feed them and change diapers around the clock. Instead I have to watch my every step because they are watching me (and repeating every word that comes out of my mouth). 

This year I will be more mindful of my mothering. Here are a few areas I need to focus on.

Notice the good - As a mom I see all the imperfections. The dirty fingernails, the refusal to wear a coat when it is 27 degrees outside, the lack of vegetables eaten. However, I do not point out the good often enough. I have really well behaved children in public. They make me look good. They save all their naughty for home. Which is how I like it. But even then they really aren’t hard to manage. This year I will focus on verbalizing the good I see from them.  

Consistent Discipline - This is a hard one. Somedays I am just tired and would rather give in than stand firm and deal with the fit. This is lazy parenting at its finest. Even well behaved children are naughty sometimes. It is my job to provide consistent boundaries and consequences. This year I will be more mindful while managing my children’s behavior.

Set a positive example - Kids see and hear everything (unless you ask them to go potty or pick up their toys). I have a few bad habits. I sometimes say naughty words which my children repeat and then I blame on Christian. Also, I sometimes gossip. The point is, what I do my kids will do. This year I plan to behave better so that I set better examples for their little eyes and ears. 

Be grateful and generous - Raising grateful upper middle class white children is a challenge. The world is built for their success. Especially our sons. They are born with enormous privilege. But I believe those of us with the most have a responsibility to demonstrate our gratitude through generosity. Jack and Grace will learn this only if they see me practice it. I will be mindful of how I use our privilege to help those with less. 

Have fun - I only have 14 years with Jack and 16 years with Grace until they leave for college. That is so short! I don’t want to miss out on the fun. I can be a little uptight (I know you are all shocked). Often I choose to stay home in my comfort zone instead of going on adventures. My goal this year is to have a blast with my family. I want to let go of the control and just have fun. 

Being a mom is the best experience of my life. I love it! The work is hard and exhausting but it is so very sweet and rewarding. I hope to be a mindful mother not just this year but every day with Jack and Grace. They deserve it. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Crying Over Spilled Milk

Yesterday I wrote a post about mindful mothering and the ways I want to incorporate it into my life this year. I was all ready to hit the "publish" button. Well life is funny. I was a horrible mother this morning. I haven't had a full week alone with my kids since the beginning of December. This week back to our normal schedule has left us all a little tired and grumpy.

This morning before we even left the house I yelled at my children. They were both fighting me about everything. Breakfast, going potty, putting on clothes. Finally I had Jack and Grace sitting at the bottom on the stairs ready to put on socks and shoes and they both started throwing a huge fit about it (about the fifth such fit of the morning). I screamed at them about how naughty they were being. Told them I had had enough and stormed up the stairs and locked myself in the bathroom. Classy! I know you are all quite impressed with my parenting.

Well it gets worse. We do get out of the house. I drop Jack at the community center and head to the library with Grace. As we are leaving the library Grace lays down in the aisle and cries. I just walked around the corner and ignored her. After a few stares from the other patrons I went over, picked her up and carried her kicking and screaming out of the library.

Finally we all make it home. In the course of making and eating lunch three glasses of milk are intentionally turned over, Cheerios are intentionally crushed all over the floor and my clean sheets are pulled out of the dryer and dragged through the spilled milk. I yelled at my children again, put them in time out for the one hundredth time this morning and sat in the kitchen floor sopping up milk and feeling like a complete parenting failure. Mindful's ass!

So Miss Mindful, not gonna eat out, be a good wife and mother this sitting in the floor ready to throw in the towel. I want to call Christian and tell him to get home and tend to his unruly children. I want to not fix another meal or clean another dish. I really just want to go to the local Mexican restaurant and drink a tall margarita. Oh it is easy to be mindful on the good days. The fun days. The days where we kick the ball in the park and everyone laughs and smiles and has a fun. It is much harder not to cry over the spilled milk.

I may just go get the margarita but I am not going to call my husband, who is at a job that probably makes him feel like his soul is being crushed by the man, to complain about my shitty morning. I guess that is something. Right?

Maybe tomorrow I will share my sweet mindful mothering post. But for now I am going to eat chocolate and read a book while my children spend a little time in their rooms.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Mindful Marriage

Each new year offers a chance to refocus from the busy holiday season and set goals for the new year. What do I want my life to look like when I wake up the morning of January 1, 2014? I have thought about this question a lot over the last week. The answer is that I love my life. Right now is a sweet and precious time with my family that I wish I could bottle and keep forever. I don’t have any major changes I want to happen this year. What I want is to cherish the right now and do my best to not get in the way of my own happiness. My focus this year is mindfulness. Throughout the rest of January I will share a few areas I am going to try and be more mindful. 

The most important relationship in my life is with my husband. That is the foundation of my family. Over the last year I put effort into treating my husband better. You will have to ask him if he noticed but I saw a positive change in our relationship. 

This year I want to focus on being mindful of how I interact with Christian. I want to pay attention while our relationship is strong and times are good. I believe that if I work each day to do my best as a wife then I am doing my job of maintaining a happy home. 

Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness in marriage: 

Complain less - It is not Christian’s job to listen to me gripe about my day or listen to my drama with others. Complaining just sets a negative tone and creates tension. Also, I will not complain about Christian. He works hard, loves our children, and provides a very nice life for us. I have zero reason to complain to him or about him. 

Respect him - Christian works hard to provide a great life for our family. I can support him and demonstrate my love by showing respect for his decisions and actions. I can do this by not second guessing him. I can do this by respecting our budget. And I can do this by respecting our relationship. 

Show love - Men receive love differently than women. Giving respect and appreciation through my words is important. But one big area many women struggle with is sex (yep, I said it). Have lots of sex with your husband. It is the number one piece of advice I have to offer for an easy way to make your man feel loved. This year I want to focus on showing Christian love. One way I plan to do this is by ironing his work clothes and making his lunch. I think these two small things will help make the start of his day easier and offer a reminder as he leaves our home each day that I love him. 

No criticism - My husband is a grown man. He does not need me to micromanage him. This will be the hardest one for me! Absolutely no criticism. If I have an issue that needs to be discussed then I need to be direct and say what I really mean. Criticism can create resentment that can lead to much bigger issues. I will focus on using kind words instead of nitpicking.

And fellas, if you want to be more mindful of your relationship with your wife you could offer to help her out around the house, keep the kids and give her time to herself, tell her that you love her more often, compliment her appearance, and tell her she is doing an awesome job running the home and raising the kids. 

Marriage is so important to a healthy and happy home. This year I plan to make mine a top priority. I am very blessed and lucky to have a solid marriage. It is my responsibility to see it stays that way. 

Stay tuned for a few more areas I want to bring focus to this year. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year and a Family Challenge

2012 was a fun year. Having little children is equal parts enchantment and frustration. These little guys keep us on our toes but watching them learn and grow is a true privilege.

I am excited for 2013. The new year always feels refreshing. The days grow longer, the house is cleared of holiday clutter and we all resume our regular routines.

We are starting our year off with a family challenge. A few weeks ago I read in the business section of the Denver Post (you know me and the it!) about how to be smart with money. One suggestion was to have a month each year that you do not eat out. I loved this idea. At the end of last year we got a little lazy at our house and ate out a bit more than I like. Not only is it good for the pocket book to eat at home and brown bag it, but it is also a way to start the year off with healthier eating habits.

Truth be told, I am horrible at anything that requires abstinence. Just the mention of a restriction creates craving. So...we have a few cheats. First, it is my month to host supper club so I get to eat out that night. Second, Christian usually goes to happy hour with work buddies once a week so that won't count. Also, any off-site work events like travel are void of this restriction. Otherwise, I am going to try and keep us eating at home this month.

I am sure I will bend the rules at some point because I lack discipline. Plus the first sign of a sick kid usually sends me running for the take-out menus. But I really am going to try. Especially since it is my idea.

So to recap. No eating out. This includes coffee, special treats, dine-in or take-out. Feel free to join us with this month's challenge.