One of the first readers of Momma Zen, by my timid invitation, was a middle-aged single gay man who had no interest or experience in parenting but a keen eye for content.
“This is about parenting yourself, right?” he concluded after a quick flip through the pages.
I agreed as if I knew. As if that very insight had guided my hand.
But those aren’t the kind of insights that illumine the daily life of a mother when the process is so totally involved with the continuous operation of a malfunctioning bundle, so wholly immersed in behavior management of a toddling monster or a moody teen.
We don’t see our lives clearly when we live it as though it has an external object and outcome. Judging it as if it is a foregone conclusion or – what if? – a looming failure.
Yet how we mother our children can never be anything other than how we mother ourselves, because it is all one life. So my question is not how you parent the people you undoubtedly love the most, but rather, how do you mother yourself? Because there are not two ways.
Are you kind and forgiving?
Do you give yourself quiet attention?
Permission to play?
Discipline to work?
The confidence to do things by yourself?
Are you honest with yourself?
Do you encourage yourself to go outside?
To take a breath?
To try again?
To take risks?
To be silly?
Are you hurrying toward some imagined milestone?
Do you undermine yourself with constructive criticisms?
Are you undisturbed by your apparent lack of progress?
Are you tender, careful and trusting with yourself?
Do you comfort fears, or magnify them?
Do you nourish yourself?
Laugh at yourself?
Smile in greeting each day?
Do you abandon yourself to preoccupations with the past?
Do you make new friends and forgive the old?
Do you allow that the world is entirely your own and encourage self-mastery?
Do you sleep when tired and eat when hungry?
Take a bath and splash?
Do you let yourself rant and cry for no good reason and then coax yourself back into the familiar cushion of your very own lap?
Do you tell yourself you are a wonderful mother and a beautiful daughter? Then let me be the first, and not the last.
How do you mother yourself?
A printable copy of this post is available here.