iamom: (Default)
"Living in the moment" has become a pretty hackneyed cliché now, but it still reflects my greatest challenge on a day-to-day basis. This is despite (or maybe because of?) how much I've studied, read about, and know about mindfulness practices. At hundreds of points throughout the day, I ask myself if I'm really here, or if I've let myself wander off elsewhere mentally.

A few minutes ago, I was eating my breakfast at the island, uncharacteristically without reading material in front of me or an iPod earbud in my ear. The boys were acting out a big imagination game, each wearing a backpack filled with treasures and equipment and climbing up onto the window seat to investigate what was happening outside. (Max is 4 and Cohen turns 3 next week.) As I watched the miniature Cohen struggling to throw his leg up to the window seat and climb up, I had a momentary flash of... something. A feeling that I was really here, that I was watching something important happen as it was actually happening.

I watched Cohen's bright eyes looking out the back window at our yard, at the forest behind our house, at the sun rising through the trees. I knew that I was really here. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn't thinking about what I need to get done later today. I was eating a meal I'd prepared myself for myself. (I wasn't standing at the counter, swallowing the leftovers from my kids' breakfasts before putting their dishes into the dishwasher.) I was watching my kids play, not waiting for the last minute before having to rush through getting them dressed to leave the house and thereby interrupting their game. I was listening to what was happening in the room at that moment instead of catching a couple of minutes from the latest episode of my favourite podcast. I was drinking from a big glass of cold, fresh water.

I was here.

Deep breath.
iamom: (zoesad)
My childhood featured a certain amount of physical and emotional violence. By the time I reached my early teens, I started to make resolutions to myself about the kind of parent I would be when I had kids. I'd never hit my kids. I'd never strike at them in anger. I wouldn't ever mete out punishment for their behaviour in the form of physical pain. I'd always watch my children and listen carefully to what they had to say. I'd always want them to feel that they were important, that their thoughts and dreams were worthwhile, and that they'd have my unflagging support for as long as I lived.

But despite these high ideals, I can't admit to giving my children a completely non-violent upbringing so far. I've lost my temper lots of times, especially with our first one. I've never hit them in anger or otherwise, but I have blown up, sometimes at them directly, with a lot of yelling and maybe a smacking of the nearest table or doorjamb or something. I've vented more than my share of hot air in this way, and I'm sure that it's terribly unpleasant for little ones at the time.

I've also given my wife criticism for inconsequential things around the house: for the type of wooden spoon she uses to cook her morning eggs; for her timing of when she starts the laundry; for her lack of restraining Max from emptying the contents of the Tupperware drawer onto the floor for the 900th time. None of these things is important, but I find myself drawn to correct her about them a lot. For some reason, I think I'm the perfect judge.

Just for a sense of context, I'll soon be interviewing someone for the Nonduality Highlights Podcast who lost her daughter to cancer at the age of 7 and recently lost her husband to it also. She and her husband barely got a chance to try out their parenting with that poor little girl. It's a testament to their strength of character that they even stayed together after that.
iamom: (pink)
Max's 1st Birthday Invitation

Max's first birthday is next Wednesday, and we're having a little party for him a week from next Sunday. He just started walking a week ago, and he continues to be the world's cutest baby.

To tell you the truth, recent reviews of Zoë's videos and photos from that age reveal that she was just as adorable as he is now. That makes it obvious to me that I'm a different person now than I was then, because I can appreciate Max a lot more than I could appreciate Zoë at that time. I'm far more patient and sweeter towards Max than I was towards Zoë. I don't beat myself up over that, but I do notice it. Max and his upcoming little brother should be appreciative of how Zoë helped me build up my parenting chops so that I could be an easier-going dad for them. :)
iamom: (zoe at 4)
Z started big-kid school yesterday, a.k.a. Kindergarten, in French Immersion at Shannon Park Elementary in Dartmouth. Even though she's used to the experience of daycare, this is much different. She has to take a school bus, for one. She's such a sensitive little girl and the reality of the first days of school didn't live up to her expectations, I don't think. It's a bit jarring for her, being with such a big class (26+ kids) and also in French, plus the bus ride is a harrowing new experience for her. Totally broke our hearts to see her sitting on there alone... She's so shy when she's in new situations, it'll take her a little while to get introduced to the other kids on her bus and to get to know them a bit.

It's bittersweet here at home, because although I can get more stuff done when Z's not here (Max still naps twice a day), I really miss having her around, too. I recognize that from here on out, I'll get to spend less and less time with her, and it's sad for that to sink in. We're having fantastic reunions at the school bus stop at the end of the day, though. And it's pretty neat to see her go through such a hugely new experience. This is the first real moment of sadness I've had for her, though. I was in a pretty melancholy mood yesterday when I was here at home, alone.
iamom: (flying by)
I just wanted to post this for posterity and out of pride. My father-in-law has been volunteering extensively for the Rotary Club since retiring a few years ago, and one of his projects is to organize and produce the numerous fundraising Stampede BBQs that Rotary hosts during the Calgary Stampede. He just sent us an aerial shot of his largest production, and I thought it was pretty impressive.

A lot of organizations contribute goods and staff to the event, including Safeway, who donates a huge trailer free of charge to transport goods and food. Last year they raised almost CA$500K for various Calgary charities for the event. It looks like a huge rock concert to me!

iamom: (Default)
The excerpt below is from Issue 450 of the Yoga Journal newsletter, which, despite its being distributed by a major glossy magazine publisher, has maintained a really high standard of quality in the year or so I've been reading it.

The article also calls to mind some heavy feelings I've had in the past year about my own mom. Like this part: If you don't acknowledge and make peace with these feelings, they can stay caught forever in your mind and heart, preventing the possibility of an authentic relationship. My relationship with my mom is far from inauthentic, but that probably doesn't mean we don't still have some stuff to discuss. :)

At any rate, I could definitely use some Child's Pose action -- my back is killing me today and I almost always find that posture helpful for relieving back pain.
As I awaited the trolley during my commute this morning, a mother with her toddler son approached the platform. Clearly they were upset with one another—she barked commands to him in Russian while he protested and whined back at her. While I couldn't understand what they were saying, the dynamic was universal. I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable as I witnessed their struggle.

What is it about the delicate mother-child relationship that can send us back to our own childhood in an instant? Vipassana meditation teacher Phillip Moffitt says he is surprised to discover how yogis of both genders and all ages report being overwhelmed by unresolved feelings about their mothers. If you don't acknowledge and make peace with these feelings, he says, they can stay caught forever in your mind and heart, preventing the possibility of an authentic relationship.

This week, in honor of Mother's Day, take a look at your own unresolved mother issues, examine parenting as a spiritual practice and nurture yourself by spending some time in Child's Pose.

Namaste,
Andrea Kowalski

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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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