I have always considered myself a spiritual person. I would say that a lot of this has to do with my Mum also being a spiritual person. I remember growing up, there were occasions she would talk to clairvoyants, and she always spoke of her “feelings” and “gut” when it came to houses. So naturally, when I moved out of home I consulted her “gut” if the place I was moving into had good energy. It was this influence that allowed me to explore my own spirituality and trust my own intuition. As I entered my 20s I began setting my own spiritual practices and rituals. This often involved meditation, mindfulness, crystals, essential oils and reading many, many books on different types of spirituality. All of this went good-bye, out the door, when I had kids.
I remember feeling frustrated, annoyed and powerless because all I wanted to do was delve further into my spiritual practice.
My kids had other ideas. I became resentful that I could never get a spare moment to sit and meditate, or look through my crystals without little prying hands grabbing the little gems. I would even go so far as to say, I was filled with anger at not having anytime to myself at all. My idea of being the perfect Zen Mama to my kids flew out the door, and in came the Angry Overtired Mama. Let me tell you this was definitely not a pretty sight.
Before having kids I swore to myself that I would use gentle and positive parenting. I would be full of compassion, empathy and understanding. Boy was that an epic fail. Don’t get me wrong I definitely have my moments of being Zen Mama, and also playful with my kids. But Angry Mama shows up too. Something I never wanted to enter my home or family, let allow come out of my mouth. It has taken me several years to work through and realise there are solutions and ways to calm my Angry Mama and allow my Zen Mama to shine.
For ages, I felt resentful that I couldn’t continue my spiritual practice the same way I did before having kids. Then one day I had a revelation; something that allowed me to realign my values and desires as a parent. This was huge in shifting my entire way of being as a person and a Mum. What’s my secret? Well to be honest it’s not really a secret there are probably countless mamas out there that have already realised this. Here it is:
Being a Mum IS My Spiritual Practice.
Yes! That is it. I thought to myself why do I have to sit down to be spiritual? Why do I have to practice spirituality a certain way? The answer is I don’t. This is my spiritual journey and I can walk it however I want. Realising this felt like a massive weight had lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt guilty that my spiritual life was failing. I no longer felt guilty about feeling resentful at my kids. Instead I realised that, yet again they had presented me with a beautiful gift. The gift to grow not just as a parent, but also a person as well.
So how do I make being a Mum my spiritual practice? Well now when I interact with my kids I give them my full awareness. I parent consciously. I chose my words before I allow them to escape my mouth. I use compassion and empathy when they are in an emotional crisis. I use patience when their big feelings are coming out as tantrums and acting out behaviour. I use my calmness to counteract their angry and frustration. All of these small little things have allowed me to grow and live in my Zen Mama state. Most of the time anyway. If I am honest (which I always like to be), my Angry Mama does rear its head sometimes. When this happens it is usually because I am feeling tired, frustrated that my kids won’t listen, powerless to help them or sometimes I even allow myself to get dragged into their emotions. When this happens, well let’s just say when anger meets anger, nothing good comes from it.
I do however, have things I do to get me out of that suffocating haze of anger. Firstly, I breathe. Have you ever noticed when you feel really angry and there is imaginary steam coming out of your ears or nostrils you aren’t breathing properly? This is something I noticed when I had my Angry Mama hat on. So, to counteract that, I slow my breathing. Sometimes I even leave the room, to re-evaluate my options. Will I continue being this angry, rage filled person or will I take a step back and step into my Zen Mama and approach the situation with compassion and empathy? Taking a step back (and/or away) really has a profound way of offering a new perspective to those tricky situations. It also allows you time to process your own emotions without getting swept up into your kiddie’s emotions.
Secondly, I talk about it. Either with my husband (who completely understands my frustration), another family member, or a trusted friend. All these people offer me empathy, so I can get my feelings off my chest. This allows a sense of freedom and relief, which means there is now more room to give more empathy and compassion to my kids. Having someone to talk to, who will truly listen and not judge is so good for the soul and something everyone thrives on. In turn, I can give this same listening to my kids, and it’s also a spiritual practice at the same time.
Thirdly, I take a squiz at how empty my cup is. By this I mean my cup of love, joy, compassion, empathy, laughter. When my cup is running dry, there is no way in the entire world I can give those things to my kids. How can I give them something I don’t have, right? It is so important as parents, and pretty much everyone else on the planet, that our cups aren’t just full but overflowing. A full cup feeds our needs and an overflowing cup fills the needs of our kids and anyone else in our life. Everyone has different things that fill up their cups. For example mine are chatting with trusted friends, reading, writing, going for a walk in nature, going to the beach, getting a massage, having a relaxing bath and quite recently boxing with my husband. So the question that you need to ask yourself is, what do you enjoy doing? What leaves you feeling full of joy and happiness? What things allow you to be the best version of yourself? All those things fill up your cup.
You know when you go on a flight and the flight attendant says to put on your own oxygen mask before others, even your kids? It’s a cliché, but oh so true. Well the same can be said for pretty much everything. We need to fill up our own cups, and meet our own needs before we focus on filling up anyone else’s. Trust me this is not selfish, we can’t look after anyone if we are almost dead from exhaustion. It doesn’t take much either. Five minutes walking barefoot in your backyard can help realign and reconnect you with yourself and your kids.
So if you are a Mama who really wants to continue with her spiritual practice and doesn’t have the time, feels tired and plain old frustrated, incorporating your spiritual practice into parenting can meet both needs at once. Plus there is the added bonus of increasing your connection with your child. Who can say no to that!
Remember to breathe through the challenges and upsets.
Find a listening partner who will offer empathy so you can offload your emotions.
Do you have a list of things you like doing that fill your cup? Write them down so you can refer to it in times of crisis when you feel your cup running dry.
Love and Gratitude