“In God, I move and breathe and have my being.” – Oprah’s favorite mantra
I touched on the spiritual practice of caring for children two weeks ago in the post – A Spiritual Practice Can Help Moms Feel Whole, but I want to elaborate and talk more specifically about how you can have a spiritual practice and find breathing space when you have children especially little ones who need your constant attention. I know how hard it is to sometimes fit in the most basic things we need for ourselves when we are raising children and attempting to keep our house in order.
But you need time for yourself to get centered more than ever when you’re ready to pull out your hair because the baby won’t stop crying and your five year old is destroying the house you just spent two hours cleaning, and the toilet is stopped up, oh and something is burning in the oven because you forgot you were cooking dinner and on top of all that your husband is MIA, off playing golf or working late for the fourth night this week. Yet somehow he did manage to show up to help conceive the little buggers that are now driving you crazy. My husband didn’t even get the memo on Mother’s Day that it was my day off. Anyway, I digress. Oh yes, how to fit a spiritual practice and breathing space in your life when you have children pulling you in every which direction?
Basically, you get it in where you can fit it in.
In other words I suggest you grab a moment anywhere and anytime you can. For example, both my kids at the same time sometimes, occasionally, okay rarely fall asleep on the way home from somewhere and when I pull into the garage I turn off the engine and I just sit there and bask in the peace and quiet or I read on my ipad, savoring every quiet word. These little car naps are never long enough but they do provide some relief and a moment to myself to recharge. Try it for yourself. If the kids fall asleep in the car, instead of waking them up or pulling them out of the car when you reach your destination be it home or the grocery store, use the time to be still and breathe, do a short meditation, read something inspirational, say a prayer, flip through your favorite magazine or just watch your kiddies sleep and sigh. Oh, precious moments.
I’ve often joked with girlfriends (who have kids because they understand) that my husband is going to come home one day and find the kids locked in the closet. Now of course I would never do that (wink wink) and I would never suggest to anyone to do that but the alternative is to lock YOURSELF in the closet or the bathroom for a minute or two or ten just to regroup and clear your head when you need to most, when the day has gotten exceedingly overwhelming instead of just the typical overwhelming. Just sit on the toilet, take deep breaths and count to ten. What a difference putting yourself in timeout will make.
The point is you have to work within the time and space you have as a mother. So if that means finding time in the car when the kids fall asleep or when you go to the bathroom, or take a shower, that’s if you go to the bathroom and take showers (which I have often not found a window of opportunity for on any given day) then that’s when you have to fit in your spiritual practice or simply some breathing space.
Find the time in the little pauses between the busy duties of motherhood – when the kids are in the bath (as long as they’re old enough to bath alone), when you have to run to the car to get something take your time, or when you wake up before the kids get up. Trust me it’s these little moments of reprieve that will have the greatest impact on your personal well-being. The laundry and dirty dishes will be there but your sanity will try to escape you every chance it gets. So it’s best to be proactive and tend to it when you can, two minutes here, five minutes there. Fit it in when you can get it in which will often be on the toilet that’s if your children every let you pee alone. Lock the door and breathe.
Raising Children is Sacred…Let Motherhood be Your Church
As I’ve said, the sacredness of taking care of and nurturing children is in itself a spiritual practice. The priceless smiles and laughter, the look in their eyes that conveys the deepest love, the endless hugs and kisses, there is nothing that gives us more joy or touches our heart so much as the sweetest moments we experience with our children. You have brought a life into this world, giving you the highest privilege to love, protect and nurture another human being. There is nothing more spiritual and sacred than that. So yes, being a mother counts as having a spiritual life. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have an hour to meditate or you can’t ever seem to make it to church on Sunday. Raising children is your spiritual practice – remember that the next time you curse the never ending piles of laundry or you trip over that truck in the middle of the night after telling your son to pick it up one zillion times.
You’re a different kind of worshiper in a different kind of church…in which I’m sure your kids will give you plenty of reasons to pray, yell “Lord, Jesus help me”, throw your hands up in surrender, run up and down the aisle (of a grocery store) and give way more than the customary ten percent (towards their upbringing), all while giving thanks for another day that you get to tuck your devil, I mean angel children in bed.
I cannot stress enough that navigating life with ease is about being flexible and being able to make adjustments and adapt to your environment and circumstances. This is never more necessary than in our role as mothers. So get creative and craft whatever spiritual practice and breathing space you can reasonably honor in the midst of dirty dishes, carpool, carpet stains, tantrums and being the household management goddess that you are. Simply taking a deep breath will sometimes have to be enough.
As always take care of you,
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