Amid the ever-growing stack of books on my bedside dresser is a small book of meditations on mothering that I try to read before sleeping or upon waking: Momfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Grace.
At first the cutesy title was off-putting. I had no desire for cheesy spiritual piety about the joy and wonder that surely accompany every single second of the journey that is motherhood. Gag me with a Gerber-cereal-smeared spoon.
But luckily I got past the title and dove into the reflections. Just short enough for a tired parent to take in before bedtime. And I discovered that the author has a very healthy, realistic, grounded approach to spirituality and “mindful mothering.” She writes:
“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.”
In the words of S: “A-MAH!”
One of her suggestions for moving towards greater awareness and patience when dealing with children comes from a simple breathing meditation from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, whose writings I discovered in a theology course in college. It is a two-breath meditation designed to calm the body and center the mind:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Although the breathing meditation clearly comes from a Buddhist perspective, I find that the it is easily adaptable to a Christian spirituality that embraces God’s abiding presence with and within us through the Holy Spirit.
Mindful breathing has become an important part of my prayer life ever since I learned centering prayer from my spiritual director. Since I don’t often find myself with 20 minutes to devote to centering prayer these days, I find that this breathing meditation helps me to relax and recenter in the midst of the stressful moments of mothering.
I find God’s Mothering Spirit speaking to my own, and I am able to calm my body, find enough humor in the situation to smile, and re-delight in the lovable (though sometimes frustrating) child that has been gifted to me to parent.
Even if it’s not always a “wonderful” moment, I can usually find the grace to call it a “good” moment. Because God is good. Everywhere and always, God is good.