By Hagar Harpak
Just like being fully present in meditation, being absolutely present with your child is not always easy. There is always something else to do, to run and take care of quickly, and to think about.
I find it challenging to be present sometimes; I get caught in the juggling act.
My mind jumps back and forth between homemaking, food making, house cleaning, bedtime routines, morning madness, food shopping, working, mindful parenting, and a strong commitment to take care of myself. I practice the Nitya Karmas, yoga, chanting, meditating, and reading something inspirational and educational daily, even if I only get to it at midnight.
I hear myself saying, “One second. I’m sorry, my love, I can’t play with you right now. Mama’s making dinner right now. Mama’s washing dishes right now. Mama just has to do something on the computer really quick.”
I struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough.
I question myself a lot.
Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Do I disappoint her too much when I can’t play? Am I scarring her for life? Or am I turning her into a spoiled brat? I wonder if she feels how much I love her through my actions, and not just because I say it 108,000 times a day.
Is my love too much to handle? When I lose my patience, I have a hard time forgiving myself. I expect myself to stay calm and conscious at all times. I fear her teenage years and her adulthood. Will she still love me? Will she be full of complaint and criticism? I’m sure it’s inevitable that she will have issues caused by the way we parent. How am I fucking her up?
As a mom in this generation of aware, mindful, purposeful parents, I feel both blessed and pressured. I know that it’s OK that I have other things to do, we all do. I give my daughter attention, she’s not neglected and I’m here for her, but I’m not as present as I want to be — even though I’m a three-quarter stay at home mom.
Some days just feel like a race to bedtime and I can feel that her toddler years and precious time that I have with her is flying by.
The other day, I was rushing, trying get things done. The house was a mess, I had infinite unopened emails, and a really big project to finish. I was trying to work through the mountain of things to do. And she kept trying to get me to do stuff with her. Which of course was what I wanted to do more than anything.
And then she said to me, “To all the good things, you say no.”
“What?” I asked, hoping that maybe she didn’t mean what I thought she meant. She looked at me and her magnetic depth pulled me in. She seemed very clear and a little sad.
“Are you sad?” I asked, she nodded yes, “Why?”
And then she whispered in the most soft and genuine voice, “Because I really want to play with you.” I dropped everything and sat down on the floor and hugged her. I apologized, I thanked her for expressing herself and then we played.
It was profound. I cried a lot that night and the next day and the next. I need to be more present with her.
I remember the time after she was born as the deepest meditative experience I have ever had. I was so present with her. I would watch her and feel an immediate connection to the infinite. I breastfed all day and felt like I was the embodiment of Mother Nature herself.
I felt the most goddess-like I have ever felt. I played mantra albums from morning till evening. I danced around the house with her in my arms, it was magical.
She’s three now. And she doesn’t always want to listen to mantras and dance around the house with me. She has her own preferences, as she should. She calls for my constant engagement and my most earthly attention. And so our daily routines feel less meditative, obviously, that’s life.
I have decided to make my quality time with my munchkin into a sacred space. I make sure to set aside time every day (even if limited) in which I dedicate myself to her completely. I make an effort not to get up and put the laundry in the dryer, or make another cup of coffee, or check emails or Facebook.
When I notice myself thinking about other things, just like in meditation. I take a breath and bring awareness to my body and direct my attention back to her, as if she was a mantra. I slow my breath down and I cherish the moment.
I think my practices my, commitment to breath and mindfulness are lifesaving. I put my mat down, I move my body, I breathe or I sit down to chant or just be quiet for a moment. I feel the currents of emotions and thoughts. I allow my experience to unfold. I process my life. I connect to myself so that I can continue to be giving and loving.
I am happy I have such a loving relationship and clear stream of communication with my child. I feel proud of making conscious choices.
One of the most meaningful things I learned when I first started practicing yoga, was to find the sacred in the mundane. And if I look at my life, there really isn’t anything more holy than my mama role and my relationship with my daughter.
Even though it is the most important relationship in my universe, it’s still not always easy to be present, but it’s worth it.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.