(Not such a) Zen Mama

Your life as a mother will reveal self-evident insights. It will show you more clearly who you are and what life really is. It will prove how capable and creative you are, how boundless and free. You are just not likely to believe it right away. You will suspect that there is something you’re not getting, something you’re missing. You’ll think you’re not clever, good or natural

This is a paragraph taken from the first chapter of the book “Momma Zen – walking the crooked path of motherhood” by Karen Miller. I had heard about this book some time ago, but having become skeptical of most parenting books (for reasons too long to be elaborated on here) I did not really rush to read it. Eventually I got my hands on it and read it pretty much in one go. I am not going to try to give a review of the book, I am sure you can find many on the Internet. I am going to (in a few posts) pick a few of my favourite bits instead, especially those that ring true to my own views and experiences while walking my own crooked path. And yes, I do think (often) that I am not good enough, I know I am not natural, I find it harder than what I thought it would be, but I am loving this path more than I ever thought was possible.

A lifetime supply of insufficiency arrives with the stretch marks. Moments of self-assurance in motherhood do occur – joyful, satisfying and complete – but they are just moments. In between are long, lonely spells when you feel lost and clueless. Ahead is another blind curve leading you somewhere you’ve never been. Yes, this crying-out-loud life is your crooked path, whose bumps and bends cannot be negotiated through mere reasoning. Time and again you’ll be stripped of your preconceptions, judgments, ideas, theories and opinions of motherhood and left to go straight on through the inexplicable experience itself. These gulfs of incomprehension bring the opportunity for spiritual growth and self-acceptance. It is an unexpected gift and not always recognized

So, this feeling of cluelessness and incompetence are actually a means for spiritual growth? Love this spin.

But this is love. The feeling you have for your child is so indescribably deep and consuming that it must qualify as one of the few transcendent experiences in your plain, ordinary life. It makes all things possible. ….. No matter how miserable I was at the moment, I knew that life itself was overwhelmingly and infinitely good. This is the balm for all the bad days ahead. This is the only fix. This is the source and strength that lifts you up as you bottom out time and again. Just love.”

I can’t think of any other cause, reason or idea that would make me go through years of being sleep deprived, stretched too thin on all fronts and just generally at the edge of a nervous breakdown 🙂 and at the same time feel so deeply, truly happy.

She pleaded with me, as any mother to a tormented child “Don’t be so hard on yourself”

She talks about her failure to breastfeed. I talk about my obsession with my children’s sleep (or the lack of it). I spent a good portion of my maternity leave with Una searching for the magic hint on what I was doing so wrong that my baby would only nap in 45min stints while the endless parenting books with the focus on sleeping issues (I have one full bookshelf of those) claim that anything shorter than 1.5 hours is a big fat failure from your side to teach your baby how to sleep and that he/she will as an adult be sleep deprived, unhappy and perform inadequately in all aspects of life. Now, you would be obsessed too, wouldn’t you?

I promised myself I would not repeat this with Nestor but when, after the first weeks of newborn sleepiness, he started showing signs of the same behaviour I felt the same irrational thoughts creeping in and shared this with my mum, she told me “My dear, not everything is under your control. There is also the child’s temper and their genes,  you know.” This coming from a woman who has never needed the word for failure in her vocabulary.

Practice acceptance on yourself so you can be kinder with your child. Practice nonjudgmental awareness of your life so you can save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted dissapointment. Practice greater faith and lesser blame

I have to print this one out  (the whole chapter really) and stick it on my computer screen. All of them.

More to come!

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