Of all the hats I wear, the “Mom” hat is both the most challenging and the most rewarding. It also matters the most. While there are areas where I feel confident in my mothering, there are so many areas where I desire to grow and improve. The practice of “momfulness” is the medicine for my mothering soul. When I am “momful” I am at ease, present with my children, and able to embrace the many gifts of joy motherhood has to offer. The non-momful me looks like that woman in the grocery store reading a magazine in the checkout line unaware that her children are saying “mom” repeatedly or entranced on my computer at home unaware of the needs of these little people with whom I have been entrusted.
The term “Momfulness” comes from a lovely author and therapist, Denise Roy. Her book Momfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion and Grace has been my favorite book since I first read it in 2008. And I love books, so it’s something for me to have a clear favorite. I recently reread the entire book on a plane trip with my husband and he asked, “Haven’t you already read that book a few times?” My response was “Yes! But it still hasn’t sunk in yet!” I read and re-read out of a desire to become more “momful” and, unlike him, I don’t always remember everything I read!
These image of my family were taken in 2009 shortly after I first read “Momfulness.” Our darling photographer knew my husband and I to be book lovers so she invited us to all bring our favorite books to the photo setting. It was a fun way to bring our personalities and passions into the family photographs. Even though we were posing for a photograph these images are quite representative of what momfulness means to me encompassing childlike playfulness, parental presence and physical affection.
Roy defines Momfulness in her introduction with these words:
Momfulness is the word I use for this spiritual practice of conscious mothering. When we mother with mindfulness and compassion and a willingness to let this vocation awaken our hearts and transform our lives, we walk a spiritual path. We discover that care for our children and family is not a distraction from sacred practice but is the very essence of it….Words can’t capture its full meaning, because Momfulness is best understood through experience.
It seems most things worthy of “becoming” are known only through experience. It’s through experience we come to understand things like grace and love. We can cognitively understand these concepts, yet without experience the understanding is incomplete. Even though I’ve been mom-fully-aware since I was blessed enough to stumble upon Roy’s book, I so often lack the grace in the moment to interact with my children as I wish I would. Then comes the negative self-talk that we all battle when we act in ways not consistent with our values. A few weeks ago I was in conversation with a group of moms at late-night coffee as we swapped stories of motherhood shamefulness. I told a story about I had mishandled the nighttime fears of my son and screamed at him something so shameful I dare not write it down. Even the calmest mom in the group had a shaming story to share. Part of “momfulness” is learning to mother ourselves with compassion and kindness….this also a practice of course.
The experience of becoming “momful” in the moments of my life is my pursuit and the purpose of this and the following blogs I will write this year. Although I have read and re-read Momfulness, it’s the practice I would like to develop with greater intention and purpose. So…in 2014 I am going to read and practice the meditation or practice given at the end of each chapter each week (or so). I will write about my experience, not for your sake, but for the accountability it will provide. That said, I hope my experience will bless your life as well and I would most certainly welcome feedback, encouragement or comments on the journey.
I will begin with the practice of presence and the power of breath to restore a place of centeredness.