Being a mom or acting as a mom?

In these last days of my pregnancy, my energies have been drastically decreasing and forced me to lay often down in bed, even in the middle of the day, without reaching, however, some sort of comfort.

Tomorrow I am going to the hospital to deliver my third child on Wednesday.

I really feel my baby is preparing himself as well to this event and I think my belly hasn’t been a friendly place to live in, as it had been for him during the previous months.

Since about two weeks, I am confronting with an annoying feeling of tension, that I easily drop on my loved ones, children included.
I believe this state of tension comes out from knowing my body now needs new and slower rhythms.
While my mind, instinctively determined, finds it hard adapting to it.

In some moments, I doubt about finding the necessary energies to front this new challenge of another baby at home and I am facing feelings of inadequacy towards my role as a mom.

I am perfectly aware that my personal path as a mother, a path that began more than 7 years ago, has been changing me completely and has been opening extremely wide horizons in front of me.
The creative energy that poured out from motherhood, has been allowing me to discover real passion and to live the life I strongly wanted for myself, without being influenced anymore by my old role of child.
I know I have been developing the awareness of what I know now is my real inner nature and I believe this discovery has made me a better, more mature, individual.

Lately, stimulated by some readings, by some topics read in the mom-blogs, and of course, by the day-to-day life experience with my 2 children, I am confronting with some thoughts that, as delivery approaches, are becoming more and more urgent.

Meanwhile, I have completely realized my children aren’t little people anymore, have been developing a clear and defined personality and have been facing daily the outside world’s progressively complex challenges.

And what I happen to notice by their behaviors and reflections, is often characterized by my personal feeling, as a mom, I should have, in some circumstances, definitely done better.

I mean, I am aware I usually did what I really could, also being led by a sincere and vivid enthusiasm. But at the same time, I perfectly know that I often couldn’t help my children the way I could or should have done.

As every mom, I immensely love my children, but I am not exaggerating so much in saying that sometimes, even in perfect good-faith, I happened to be more infatuated by the role of being a mom and by the glory of motherhood, than of being, simply, their mom.
As I have been putting acting as a mom before a sincere and direct observation of my children effective needs the moment required.

I actually don’t know if all of this prevented them from completely experimenting themselves while fronting the little-big challenges life has brought in front of them, until now. But I am certain, instead of putting before my presence’s and my adult reasoning’s filter, I should have been “Helping them to do by their own“, just to mention one of the most famous Maria Montessori’s quotes; letting them walk with their own legs and forcing myself to sustain them only in the moment of their real need.

Moreover, what at that time seemed to be the most loving and closest way of being present as a mom, has been slowly actually undermining their trust in themselves, progressively inoculating the doubt inside of them they couldn’t help themselves, without my direct participation.

I don’t think I can define myself as a selfish mother, but I must admit sometimes I savored the bitter taste of a fascinating feeling of power. Mostly accentuated by the fact I am a mom of 2 boys, so the unopposed queen of the house. Talking nonsense, maybe a girl could have been put this insane imbalance in the right perspective and could hopefully have drop all these unconscious matriarchal illusions down, at the right time.

But now, there’s a bigger danger in front of me, and that is a direct consequence of the mistakes I made with my children in the past.
The mistake of surrendering to the fear of making mistakes again and of giving up to stillness, wallowing in an unproductive feeling of failure.

There’s a another quote, by Edmund Burke that I framed and hanged near our door at home that says “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.
I truly believe the worst mistake I can possibly do now is keeping on feeding any kind of expectations towards myself and my children, pretending to change completely from a day to another.

Anyway, I know that before today, even if I felt some increasing inner discomfort, I couldn’t actually be able to acknowledge all the mistakes I have made.

A great opportunity stands in front of me and my family, now.
The new beginning we are approaching, that will come out from the extraordinary circumstances of this new life that soon will join ours, is a chance to grab quickly. A chance of setting up healthier parental approaches and go crucially further in my personal path as mother:

without interfering with grown-up methods and strategies, lightening up the weight of my bulky ego and of my parental expectations

looking and listening deeply and teaching less

giving up on stimulating them with pre-packaged situations and instead, focusing on being completely present when requested by their real needs.

– Silently putting myself out of the scene and letting, finally, my children be the leading roles of their own life.

Coloring Mandalas

It’s holiday time in our house and with no school until the 9th of January, we’ve been scheduling lots of activities with our children.

Now they are more grown-up kids, most of our time has been spent outside, at relatives’ or friends’ houses or even at the theatre.

But one of the most successful activities of this time around, has been coloring Mandalas.

I read some time ago in Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children, another one of the wonderful books by Thich Nhat Hanh, how this activity could be simple and relaxing for kids of all ages…and not only for them!

Browsing on the web, I found lots of links, in Italian too, like this one by Claudia, written in her blog The little house on the prairie, so I decided to give Mandalas a try.

As I wrote in the post Bellies & siblings, this is a very challenging moment in our family life, due to my child P.’s aggressive reactions, especially towards his older brother.

Though I made some plans to take children engaged in some sort of activities during the entire days, I am currently suffering from managing transitional moments between the activities, as for instance, that challenging time while making lunches or dinners.

The art of Mandala has been used from ancient times and in different cultures around the world to visualize the circular form of life and universe.
Coloring Mandalas, it is said, helps finding balance and focus and it could have a reassuring and relaxing effect. Marie Louise Von Franz, Jung’s most famous pupil, used, as his master, Mandalas to study human personalities. She underlines how, by the art of Mandalas, individuals can reach clarity in psychic confusion and how they can actually empower new positive psychical abilities.

My children love drawing, but when they are at home, they usually prefer to draw by their own than coloring pre-made drawings. I attribute this to the fact both of them have been taught in school to color inside the borders as the main priority in creative arts.

However, I had been noticing that both of my children were soon attracted by the shape and the symmetry of the printed Mandalas I gave to them and they immediately began to color in a focused and quiet atmosphere.

Even P., who usually gets easily stressed if those kind of activities last for too long, surprisingly asked me to color some more of them.

Even more surprisingly, the quiet atmosphere protracted for the rest of the afternoon, even in challenging moments that usually require my full attention and patience, as for instance, before and after dinner, when children are nervous and tired and they get easily frustrated or excited.

We are longing to come back to coloring Mandalas, as soon as possible.

Fortunately, the web is full of links where anyone can download for free amazing Mandalas for kids.

For our fist experiment, we downloaded Christmas theme Mandalas too, in fact, actually there are so many out there, that you just need to digit “coloring mandala” in the search box and you’ll get millions of them!

If you are interested in purchasing the Thich Nhat Hanh’s book I wrote about in this post, you can do it from this affiliate link:

What will next year bring?

New year, time of reviews and projects!

Personally, the year is coming to end, has been one of my bests.

Beyond stars’ favour (didn’t you know 2011 was a great year for cancers?), looking back I can see that mostly was due to having spent enough time on visualizing and envision my priorities and my missions.

Actually it has been a 1-year-long attitude and it has really helped me on clarify the what and how of my several projects and visions.
Only after this brainstorming approach, I had been really able to focus on the concrete steps of my path.

I know myself as a person whose life needs, for her own physical and psychological sake, a clear plan. A plan I am actually able to follow with determination and consistency.

But during this year I have discovered as well that too much productivity can really challenge my inner calmness and undermine my mood.

In fact, as many mothers , perfectionism is my personal enemy. And what perfectionism usually does to me is making my days more a matter of erasing tasks from a to-do list than focusing on what really matters in my life as a mother, wife and individual.

Moreover, I am, of course, never able to reach the perfection I seek. And that leads me inevitably to feel depressed, discouraged and guilty.

Being pregnant has pushed me to going deeper in finding a way to cope with this insane way of thinking. I have realized that I was living too much importance to my thoughts and to my expectations without being able to be grateful for the life I live.

Inevitably, my main dare for the new year is approaching by, will consist on the arrival of our third baby boy that will surely be a revolution in our settled family life.

Then, one of my most important issues would be for me practicing the concreteness of my organization skills and contemporaneously adapting them to seeking a new family balance, with an attitude of patience and compassion towards each other.

I can say it will be mostly about finding the meeting point between productivity and real life, between plans and flexibility, between prefixed thoughts and what Byron Katie calls “Falling in love with reality”, that is quality of living where inner peace flows from a non-judging dwelling in the present moment.

Once I have read a sentence that I still keep in mind and that goes something like this: “Living both the length and the width of life“.
Then, that’s what I am longing to accomplish during next year: conquering this new dimension of width, in which the present would be a prior value.
Undoubtedly, with 3 small kids in the house, this would be a real challenge!!!

But at the same time, I am now more aware about the fact that my kids could actually begin to be, now more than ever, my Zen Masters, as Sarah Napthali puts it.

In fact, just after having made a shift in my way of thinking and embracing the fullness of reality, I can see clearly my children actually continuously tickle me, allowing me to abandon rigid schematic approaches and perfectionist rationalities and instead they force me to give my complete attention to the fullness of the moment and to the awareness of listening and accepting reality just as it is.

And you?
How about the year is over?
Which are your plans and resolutions for the new year?

Please, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Happy new year!!!