Mindful Parenting: Feeling Stuck
You may have noticed that the blog has been silent for awhile, and that my last post was about how I had let my mindfulness practice slip. The truth is that I’ve been really struggling with precisely what mindful parenting means to me and how I want to implement it in my life and with my family.
I am still a newbie to mindfulness, and this blog is about finding my way into all of it. I found mindfulness practice because I was struggling to be the kind of parent I knew I could be, and wanted to be. I was getting frustrated with my daughters, I was snapping at them, and I knew that our interactions were not reflective of how much I not only love them, but also truly like them and enjoy spending time with them. I had read so many blogs and parenting books about what I should be doing (craft projects, new recipes every night, sticker charts, gratitude journals, special time alone with each child, positive discipline—the list goes on and on). All of these “suggestions” didn’t motivate me; they left me feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and to be honest, resentful. It all felt like too much, and I knew I couldn’t do it all. Furthermore, I didn’t actually believe that I had to do all of that to be a good mother. But I knew I needed to do something.
So, I dove into the mindful parenting literature. At the beginning it was exciting; there were all sorts of new ideas and suggestions that I couldn’t wait to implement. I started meditating, and I was sure that I had finally found the key to becoming a good mother. Yet as I kept reading and writing, I noticed a familiar feeling returning. The Pinterest recipes and tips on picking the right preschool had been replaced with suggestions for teaching mindfulness practices to children and creating the perfect meditation altar in my home, but the underlying message was the same. I wasn’t good enough; I needed to be doing something different, something better.
It’s an awfully tempting idea, to be honest. In fact, it’s the kind of thing that I’m really good at. I could just a make a list of all the things I need to do, and then do them. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off items on a to-do list—I have tangible evidence that I am accomplishing something. That may have worked in my professional life, but it’s not what my girls need from me. Furthermore, it’s not the kind of parent I want to be, and it’s not the kind of parenting that I truly believe in. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we need to do, that we forget that what really matters to our children is who we are and how we interact with them. That’s what matters to me, and I had somehow lost that focus in the midst of all of the mindful parenting suggestions.
So I ditched it all. I threw the baby out with the bathwater. I stopped meditating, I stopped reading the mindfulness literature, and I stopped blogging about it. I didn’t want to write about something I wasn’t doing—it felt dishonest. And I felt stuck. I still feel stuck. But I’m not ready to give up on mindfulness, because when I sort through all of the clutter that has come to surround it, I find those nuggets of truth that brought me to mindfulness in the first place, and I believe in them. But I need to find my own way into this, my authentic space in the world of mindful parenting. So, at least for now, I am going to stop reading the parenting books for a little while. I am going to stop making mental lists of all the ways in which I should be a better mother. I’m going to let go of the idea of “mindful parenting” and focus on mindfulness. I’m just going to sit and breathe. That’s it. I’ll keep you updated.
Naumburg, C. (2013). Mindful Parenting: Feeling Stuck. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 10, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-parenting/2013/02/mindful-parenting-feeling-stuck/