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Book Club: Week Five

I’ll be honest, the beginning of chapter 6 of Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children – Becoming a Mindful Parent scared me a bit – uh oh, there’s a lot about meditation and even “dukkha” here.  Is this finally going to be the part in the book where things get just a little too New Age-y for me? But I pushed through it and I’m so glad I did because this chapter, more than any other, taught me some very applicable lessons.

In it, the author encourages us to stop worrying (and lamenting) so much about life being imperfect, and to start asking ourselves what each moment requires of us.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the chapter, which is in reference to a mother listening to her toddler scream in the back seat of her car:

The main reason I am so stressed and angry is because I am trying to make this moment something other than it is.  Some moments simply suck and we just need to let them pass like clouds through the sky… I need to stop trying to change the moment, just let it be what it is, and breathe.  and didn’t my daughter have the right to be cranky, anyway? Didn’t I forget to bring a snack for her? So I breathe in, out, in, out.  She still screamed, but much of my misery was gone.

That anecdote right there got me.  That’s the calm and controlled mom I want to be!  And I really appreciated the different options for responding to a moment that were given.  Briefly, they were:

  • Compassion
  • Humor
  • Solitude
  • Patience
  • Generosity
The author went into a good amount of detail on each of these and I found a small revelation in every segment but there were two that stood out to me the most.

Humor

I grew up in a household where it was practically a sin to take yourself too seriously. Yet, somehow, I often find myself biting back my instinct to laugh.  Often it’s my need for control beating it back. With two toddlers under my watch, I sometimes feel like I’m hanging onto order by my fingernails and the slightest crack in my mama armor will lead to total anarchy.

 

What this chapter pointed out though (I was nodding my head as I read this) was that parents can often see the humor in the situation if they’re recounting the incident after it’s happened.  So why not cling to the humor in the present, when you most need it, instead of only realizing it later on? The author said it best when she wrote:

 

Family life, in my experience, offers a multitude of moments in which we can either laugh or cry.

Another revelation about humor for me was the importance of teaching children to be able to laugh at themselves:

The ability to shrug off a joke made at your expense, as opposed to going on a rampage, helps prevent a child from being the target of bulling.  I heard this at a Bully-Busing workshop where parents were also advised to joke with their children to make them more familiar with how humour works and where the line is between well-meant humour and cruelty.

Solitude

In this segment, the author writes time to be alone is essential for self-reflection, learning, and growth.  But she also writes that, because we have so little free-time as parents, we often get overwhelmed by everything we’d like to squeeze into the limited amount we do have.  The challenge is to be able to delight in solitude without clinging to it.  This is something I’m currently trying to figure out, in a big way!  I wish, in fact, that there was more written on the subject and I’d love to hear from any of you who have figured out a way to cherish your free time without resenting it when you don’t get it.

I’d also love to hear which of these areas resonated the most with you.  What could you and your family use a little more of – compassion, humor, solitude, patience, generosity, all of the above?  Share with me in the comments.

If you’re new to our book club, you still have of time to buy the book before we tackle the next chapter, What Can I Do About All the Housework? on Tuesday, November 20th.  I’m particularly excited to discuss this one – it should be a nice meld of mindful parenting and Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life.

You can also check out our discussions of previous chapters here.

 

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