As a parent you need a village of support. I now understand why families remain in the same town all their lives and why the prodigal son is such a powerful tale.
Parenting is a transition period, and sometimes the person you grow into is not someone you’d ever thought you’d become.
I have a few friends who’ve known me since my single days, my carefree days. Some are quite surprised at the changes I’ve undergone. One was so surprised she actually shared with me that she wasn’t comfortable with this new me, the “mommy me”.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to react, and so I nodded. I made light of the comment, but deep inside I needed to think. I needed the space and time to see for myself the changes to which she was referring.
I must say that having children has changed me for the better. I speak my mind a little more. I don’t always “go along” like I used to. I’m more of a home body. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company. I drink a lot less. I plan a lot more. I want to be a role model to my children so when they are old and I am gone they laugh about the times they were punished, but cherish the joy we shared. I want the memories we create to give them comfort. Peace. I want them to want to be like me not because I’m great, but because they could see I did my very best, and they too want to go the extra mile.
Not everyone’s going to understand that. Not everyone wants to parent like that. And that’s okay.
A friend recommended that I read Buddhism for Mothers a while back. At first I declined because I’m not a fan of self-help books, mostly because I’m cocky enough to think that I’m doing okay on my own, but also because so often they sound so contrived. They lay out cookie-cutter examples where everything falls in place as if it were fiction. Real life is messier and a lot more spontaneous.
I often find that your ability to relate to a book is where you find yourself at the time of the reading. I read Buddhism for Mothers when I accepted that I didn’t have all the answers and that I needed a little help. I wanted to find my peace and center again, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I had misplaced it.
I started a gratitude journal. The journal helped me focus on the positive at a time in my life when I wasn’t getting sleep and I was struggling with the adjustment of being a mother to two very different children. I was dismayed that all the techniques which helped me bond with my first were failing with my second. It felt like my life was no longer going according to plan. I was spiraling out of control, and the more I tried to plan and execute, the harder things became.
Buddhism for Mothers showed me that I hadn’t lost my peace and center, I had simply outgrown it. It was time to establish a new me and a new way to relate to the external. Most of all it helped me to accept that my pain and frustration were compounded not because of a lack of sleep (though that surely is its own form of torture), but because of my unwillingness to release the illusion I created of what it meant to be a mother of two.
Reclaiming my center has been an immensely empowering experience. I write more, I smile more, I’m more active, my family and I are happier, and sleep… well, I’ve learned to accept that this is just a phase. Good sleep will return.
I’m winging it just like everyone else, but I’m doing what works for me and mine. It is a game of evolution where the players are never static. We are constantly learning, growing, observing, accepting, and releasing who we were so that we can make room for who we are and want to be.