There are days when I feel like I the only thing I do is clean-up glittery messes and cookie dough from the cabinets. Other days, I feel like I’m a therapist, listening to the sighes of my kids’ days and helping them to navigate through social situations. Days like today, when summer break is well under way and I drive my kids from camp to the park then to the craft store and then home … well, I feel like an under-caffeinated chauffeur. And for my son, who needs to understand what is next and when it will occur, I often feel like a master planner for a small city.
I’ve learned a few things about being a mom.
- Take care of yourself. Put your workouts and healthy eating habits at the forefront of your day. I like to add my workouts into my calendar and create weekly goals for myself. This week, my goal is to just show up. Other weeks, it is to keep my heart rate within a certain range for a certain number of minutes. A recent goal of mine has been to meditate at the beginning of each day. I can say that I’m not meditating daily, yet. Instead, I’m finding peace in the early mornings about three glorious days a week.
- Teach your kids to make their own tacos. Remember the adage: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. So much of being a mom is teaching my kids how to do things. How to put their clothes away. Where to put their towel after night-time baths. How to put beans inside a corn tortilla for a quick snack. This also means rearranging the places and spaces in my house. All of the cups and dishes are located in a place that my kids can access. Clothes are in plastic bins under the beds for easy access. The cold water is located on the bottom shelf of the fridge. And even the kids’ micro-fiber cleaning clothes and spray (vinegar, water, and basil essential oil) are located under the bathroom sink. All of these things are in place because it is important for my kids to know how to do things because no single mom can do every thing (right?).
- Find joy in the ever-so-small moments. Yesterday, I watched my kids bop up-and-down in the blue chlorine water. My son took ownership of teaching his sister how to paddle with a squirt-gun while floating on a pool hammock. With excitement in his voice, he shrieked a loud, “OOOH-EEEEEH . AHHHH . OOOH-EEEEEH!” This sound may be loud and ear-hurting to others; however, to me it is joy-filled. Knowing that son my finds a sense of accomplishment in helping his sister to learn something new … are the moments that I crave as a mother.
- Ask for help. This has been one ofthe toughest parts for me. As a single mom, an assistant principal, an avid health-nut, a lover of the outdoors, and a believer that I will concur this single-parenthood life, I sometimes I forgot I have people that love me and my kiddos. I have a a building of neighbors who adore my kids (even when they are drenched from pool water, riding their bikes in the carpeted halls). My family lives in pockets of neighboring cities – and given the opportunity they always jump to spend time with my kiddos. Thus, as difficult as it is to admit that I need early-morning care so I can get to a meeting; or there is a
workout class that has my name written all over it; or, my nanny’s car won’t start and the kids need to get to school; or. … I have to remember, it is okay to ask for help. I have to remember there are people in my life that love me.
- Let go of the small things. While I try to find joy in the small moments, I’ve had to let go of some of the small things. No longer is my house clean and dust-free. There are puppets sitting in a glass jar on my counter. Ball caps and kitty-cat purses now hang from my favorite art
pieces from Mexico. There are dust-bunnies lining the fan blades in my bedroom. My beautiful orchids have paper butterflies and ladybugs hanging from their leaves. And the sink is lined with a sticky coat of watermelon flavored (fluoride-filled) toothpaste. I have to remind myself that these things really don’t matter as much as the smiles on my kids faces or the moments filled with joy.
- Simple meals serve a great purpose. When I was growing-up, I remember my parents grilled amazing meats on the grills. They made chicken-and-dumplings (on a work-week night). And even though I was a practicing vegetarian for my late teens, I still appreciated this great undertaking. Meals were well-balanced and were dedicated time with each other. While I still honor the time spent together during meal time, it is often very simple. With my son’s restrictions on food and his journey through trying new foods, our meals are very simple. Last night, we had plain noodles with red sauce. No veggies might I add. This morning, we dumped berries, nut milk and protein powder into a blender, making a quick shake. Meals are no longer big productions because it takes away from the joyful moments I can be spending with my kiddos.
- Meditate. This morning I sat on my mediation cushion with my son cuddled softly in my lap. We listened to music and focused on a golden ball in our minds. We practiced breathing (blowing out candles and breathing in the roses). We sat (I may have sat longer), but we enjoyed the stillness and found peace in the early morning. Other mornings I find time to myself (by myself). I’ve learned that meditation opens my heart and mind to what the world has to offer. It teaches me gratitude and invites stillness into my life.
These are some of the pieces that I recognize as important to my daily life. While small, when practiced on a consistent basis, they bring great meaning (and a safety-net) to my crazy, joy-filled life.