"Graceful Parenting" ... An Oxymoron?

Although not everyone is a fan of this blog's overall title: Mystical Mama, I find it suits me so well, and more and more so. I've thought of changing the name, but nothing brilliant, as an alternative, has occurred to me yet.

Mystical means "having a spiritual meaning or reality" (that's one definition) and Mama, well, a Mama is me. I am a Mama! My life is about kids, kids, kids: feeding them, dressing them, dropping them off, picking them up, arranging for childcare, cooking, cleaning, tidying, tidying, tidying, nagging, berating, playing and loving!

My husband and I have your average, garden variety, long-term (20+ years) relationship. We can be madly in love and ready to divorce, all in the same day. My mother lives with us, too, at this time. There is coming and going, laughter and arguing, irritation and gratitude, often futile attempts to "balance" it all.

It's a "normal" life and yet, the deep mysticism of it is also always there--a deepening of understanding ... understanding the true nature of life, dropping more and more of what's unnecessary in Thought, dropping the choking, restrictive garments of "me" and "mine." Finding, instead Silence, Stillness, Love ... and a great unfolding of Life in ways and avenues un-planned, unexpected, delightful.

Life! The greatest, mystical Mystery of all! (How is that we can barely see It sometimes, so preoccupied are we with our own "successes.")

Thought patterns from the past still sometimes intrude on my "parenting" and I am graced with the ability to see that I have been unfair, unkind, have lacked understanding. Oh, children! Your sweet, innocent souls must put up with so much from us, your crazy parents, with our limited understandings, worries, fears and concerns. And look what we have done with your lovely planet!

For the sake of children, let us begin to know Ourselves beyond the limiting thoughts and beliefs that have plagued every generation up until now. It has been for children that I have stayed the course with my non-profit for more than five years--through thick and thin, death and disaster--for children that I have worked so very hard, and for my own children that I have stopped working altogether from time to time.

Please join me, dear Readers, in the now global movement (with many names, really) to bring peace, clarity and loving intelligence to parents, so that parents can recognize all these in their children, Now.

This Friday, August 5, is my first radio show through the CSC on "Graceful Parenting." Tune in through the Internet at 10 am Pacific time, and call in! Go to this site to listen live, or find the archive a few days later: www.cscmediacenter.org.

Can we take responsibility now for everything? Especially within our absurdly priviliged lives in the West, lives in which food, water, shelter and survival are distant concerns ... Can we end the madness of me, more and mine, mine, mine? (And remember, I am talking about grown-ups, here, in whom such attitudes have real and tremendous impacts.)

Yes, my friends, yes we can. Perhaps the better question is: Will we?

Every day, more children are born and this "gentle rain of children*" serves to remind us of some innocence, some clarity and purity that resides within us all still ... Can we "grow up" along with our children, now?

Join me!

With Love,

Your Mystical Mama

*from Spiritual Parenting: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing the Heart of Your Child, Hugh and Gayle Prather

Mystical Mamas

As a first-time pregnant gal, I started in with all the requisite books, i.e. "What to Expect ... " (Hah!), "The Baby Whisperer," and many other books about other people's "good ideas" about parenting. I got so confused, I finally just gave up and decided to maybe try my own instincts. Books and products about babies and birth (natural and otherwise) and child rearing seem to have become a boom industry along the lines of weddings and food shows.

There is a lot of thinking out there about how to be as a mom--or dad, I suppose. I think it's mostly moms who read all these books though. New moms are a vulnerable lot: we certainly do feel that we've entered uncharted territory--maps and guides appear useful. More maps! More guides!

But it is my general belief that as a culture, we've "made too much" of everything. Did anyone hear the news that parents actually spend more time with their kids now than ever before? (I'd love to get the source on this.) And we thought we were neglecting our children! It's time to stop taking everyone else's advice and begin to follow our own. Is parenting really such a big deal?

Here in our humble family, my husband now takes care of the kids. Our income, of course is lower than average for educated Bay Area types (I guess). Both my husband and I have chosen to pursue meaningful, self-directed work over high incomes (a possible mistake?), but we live our lives in our own unique fashion, and we hope others are doing the same.

My fear, however, is that they are not. There is so very much discussion about everything--as if our choices at every turn were life and death. Do your children sleep in bed with you? Yes? Fantastic! Do you tuck them in and close the door to their own private rooms? Great! Did you breast feed? Fabulous! Did you choose formula instead? Good for you!

I am pretty sure now that it is not so much what you do with your children that matters as much as the feeling state you do it in. And part of maintaining a positive feeling state in the home is about not worrying.

For example: not worrying about how you are putting your children to bed, not worrying about whether they ate too much candy this afternoon, not worrying about how clean the house is, how much TV is being watched, is the pre-school providing enough pre-academic instruction? and so forth ... A worried parent is a distracted, unhappy parent. A worried parent is not "present." And I am not speaking of neglect (which is often the result of too much worrying about other things: the self, life, for example).

There was this wonderful post-humous quote on (of all things) "Extreme Home Makeover" last night. The father of the new-home-needing family used to say this one thing before he passed away, and it got inscribed on a stone bench in the backyard of the new and fabulous house.

"There is plenty to think about, but nothing to worry about."

This from a man diagnosed with cancer.

Worry is the great cancer of parenthood. Better replaced with "reflection."

There is a wisdom in you and in me, and in our children and partners that emerges when we actually stop worrying and start reflecting. We know what to do--with our children, our work, our homes. We know what "feels right" for us. Wherever we are and in whatever condition. As one of my teachers, Sydney Banks, has said: "no matter what situation you are in, no matter how deplorable, Truth will take you out of it."

A mystical mama worries (of course, she is a human being, too) ... and then she drops her worrying and gets quiet.

And then the answer comes. Maybe not even from her. Maybe from the child. Maybe from the Dad.

The best parenting for our families comes from us and from within our families. Good ideas are good ideas and often useful. Wisdom is always right on target.

What do other people think? The experts? The neighbors? The professionals? The media?

Who cares?!

Please, do share your thoughts if they are authentic ...