The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother. 

I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.

As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.

Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.

I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.  

So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.

Namaste 

Love, Mom NaPoWriMo10

To my daughter,

I am sorry that you are sad.

I am sorry that you are angry.

I am sorry that you feel unloved.

I know how all of this feels and hurts.

Know I am doing the very best I can do to help you.

Sometimes even the best mom’s don’t have all the answers.

I am doing the best I can do to be the very best mom I can be for you.

Please know I am healing these things for myself, too.

Love, 

Mom
Image: Google 

Gratitude Changes Everything

It was Monday morning and my household had a severe case of the Mundays (See the movie Office Space for the full reference, caution: it will make you laugh). For most of the morning there was much bickering and it reached a peak on the way to the bus stop. It began to shift when I clearly remember thinking that what we were doing was not working. Then we turned a corner, both literally and figuratively.

The rays from the rising sun streamed through the fence boards as I was filled with the inspiration to share with my children the things about them for which I was grateful. Following my lead, we each began to heartfully thank one another instead of bickering. I wish I could remember the words we each spoke that morning (it feels so long ago). Truthfully, the words did not really matter; it was the feeling of the words that mattered most: gratitude.

That night and the next morning, I continued to share my gratitude with my children for their behaviors; things shifted even more. My 9 year old daughter noticed that the dishwasher was filled with clean dishes and she began to put the clean dishes away. She also packed her lunch without my imploring her to. I was astounded and a warm smile spread across my face and heart. Of course I shared with her that I was grateful for her help. I may have even held back a few tears.

In feeling appreciated, my daughter went above and beyond what I expected of her and she did the things that I usually have to nag her to do in the morning, without my need to do so. It’s amazing how much such a small token of appreciation can do! Her brother may need a little more time to catch on, however, we get what we pay attention to. So now I will turn on more gratitude for when he does well and helps us get out the door on time.

I will add that this gratitude shift did start a bit ago when, instead of asking my children about their days, I began to ask them what they were grateful for that day. There have also been other times where, when they were bickering, I interrupted the arguments by asking each of them to state things they were grateful for about the other sibling. When they each heard that they were appreciated for being themselves, they opened their hearts to love instead of closing them in lack, fear and anger.

Gratitude opens the heart. The more open the heart is to love, the more we can find things for which we are grateful.

Namaste

The most amazing part of this was that last night when picking up my children my daughter shared that she purposefully left their tablet at their father’s house that morning because she enjoyed being tablet-free the last time they were over. They will not have the tablet again for another 5 days, when they return to their father’s home. For me, that was a parenting win! There is SO much strife over the tablet. To hear both of my kids say that they enjoyed last week without the tablet made my heart grow 3 sizes. I shared with them that my heart was smiling and very grateful!

gratitude-appreciate-the-rainbow-the-storm

gratitude-piglet

Kali Under Fire

It is said that Kali is the most misunderstood of the Hindu Deities as she is often mistakenly seen as the Goddess of Death.  While she is the “dark” aspect of the Primordial Mother Goddess Parvati, Kali’s domains are creation, destruction, rebirth, time & Shakti, or Divine Feminine Energy. She rides and is associated with the Lion, a symbol of courage. Other associations include the fire of transformation and blood. Kali’s association with blood – which is a carrier of energy and life sustaining oxygen – connects her to the mysteries of Life & Death. 

Kali is the slayer of demons and the Ego, but not men (despite the depiction in the main image). She is associated with cremation, which itself is a firey transformation. Though she carries the spirits of fallen warriors and slain animals, she does not kill them. Instead, She is the compassionate mother who loves Her children by slaying their demons and egos, or illusory selves. In this way, She brings freedom through the removal of Karma. Our station in life can cause us to have different perspectives of this Deity: Bringer of Death or Bringer of Freedom and Rebirth.


Her sword of knowledge separates the lies from the truth. For this reason, she can be seen as a bringer of Death to the parts of us that need to die. This can be intimidating and feel like a true death to those who do not wish for change. Kali can also be seen as incredibly compassionate for those whose Karma and ego are cleared by Her grace. By separating the lies from the truth, She grants us a new freedom that we did not have before. Through this freedom and release of Karma, we feel Her motherly compassion.

Additionally, “She consumes all things and denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden (i.e. Her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world’s “flavors”).” This is why she is often depicted with her tongue sticking out. I love this aspect because I enjoy exploring many things that “society regards as forbidden.”


After being introduced to Kali through a recent Jungian dream analysis, I must say that I have fallen in love with Her. Her energy is very much a part of my own. With each post, I allow a part of myself to be brought to the altar to be altered. Writing and sharing my experiences frees me while helping others in seeing paths to greater levels of freedom. This is my passion and I’m seeing more clearly that this is also my purpose.

It’s fascinating to me to look back today and see how much Kali’s presence has been quietly infused into my life over the years. I smile to think back at the resistance I felt when Lord Shiva‘s influence first came into my conscious awareness. While Pavarti naturally came up at that time, I did not identify with her the way I do now  with Kali. Her name alone now brings a smile to my face, for I can better see the strength and courage within myself through Kali. I see now how frequently I write from her view, even with this last post where I describe breaking open to become more free in The Allowance of Grace. 

It’s interesting to note that I have attempted several times to connect to and write about the archetype that most represented my nurturing and mothering side. Now I see the Deity that I sought all along was in Kali, and now so many pieces have fallen easily into place.


Additional qualities and characteristics of Kali

  • She is the feminine energy or Shakti for Lord Shiva, creator and destroyer
  • Her mantra is “I am that I am. I am Spirit.” Parallels well with my own, “I am that I am Love.”
  • Kali lives in the Anahata (true heart) Chakra. 
  • The Kali Yantra has within it the fires of transformation
  • She is the “tough love” aspect of The Primordial Mother, guiding us into our greater potentials 

This following meditation very much has the energy of Kali; healing through letting go of what no longer serves, creating a new level of freedom through transformation. I hope you find the time and space to listen and follow this loving guided meditation.

Namaste.

Making the Time

Frequently I find myself saying that I don’t have time for something:

To feel what I’m feeling. I’ll feel it later. 

To take an extra second or two to be sure that I did it right the first time. I’ll fix it later.

To cut my kids’ pancakes. I need to get ready.

To do a 5-8 minute exercise routine. I don’t have time for that.

To fill up the gas tank. I’ll wait until it’s on “E.”

To check the mail. It will be there tomorrow, it’s only bills anyway.

To listen to my daughter when she’s angry or sad. I’ve got to get ready.


Last Tuesday, I stopped and realized what I was really saying is that I don’t have time to love. What am I getting ready for? To what destination am I rushing?

So starting now, I am challenging myself to pause for a moment longer and ask myself: how can I make this moment more meaningful? how can I express more love, more compassion, and have more in this moment? 


While in many ways I have been doing this throughout my life, this is a new level of understanding and a new level of accountability. Challenge: Accepted!

Let the games begin! 

Interestingly Thursday morning I was almost in an accident because a woman who didn’t have time to apply her face (makeup) at home was doing so while driving 45mph+. She then suddenly cut into my lane when traffic in hers stopped… I hope she now finds 5 mins in her morning to not apply her face and drive! 

Capturing Wind in a Bottle

I drink in the sound

of your laughter.

 

Happiness falls hotly

from the corners of my eyes.

 

Heart cords wrap ‘round

and kiss your hurt places.

 

My eyes hear the smile

that lights your face.

 

I urge my memory to open

and record each element

of this moment, alas it’s like

trying to capture wind

in a bottle.


Image: Google 

Holding You

I remember when holding you was the most magical thing I could do.
Your scent was intoxicating, your soft skin against mine was velvetine.
I loved the sounds you would make while you suckled at the breast.
The hand that would hold my finger in its tiny grasp.

I remember the kisses I would shower & you would gladly receive.
The gleam in your eyes as you would look into mine peacefully.
The giggles we would share without any care.
Now nights I lay awake, dreaming for another take.

Now it seems for all the love I have in my heart
just gets quartered and thrown apart.
Pulling myself together, stitching with threads
of my golden memories of you. What is a mother to do?

Now it seems your resentment and hatred like a volcano just spews.
I expected this would come one day, it just seems years too soon.
When I see you are down, I ask how I can help – go away! is your reply.
So now I hold you in my heart and as best I can, in the light.

I held her hand last night and read this to her then played the song I sang to her as a baby. It changed our dynamic completely.