My 8 year old daughter (V) is distance learning. We spent the weekend clearing off her desk, removing the paper clutter; out with the old to make space for the new. My 4 year old daughter (L) has been away from daycare and home since March. Some days she has separation anxiety when one of us leaves. Today was a big day for her. She would be away from both parents for a good chunk of the day, around seven plus hours.
She protested. She didn’t want to get dressed and had become accustomed to pajama wearing most days. Comfort and play was key. She balked at the shirt Mommy chose and picked her LOVE emoji shirt instead. She wanted to play and this new routine was keeping her away from her toys and imaginative play. V got dressed and was watching a YouTube video on her iPad.
My husband announced, “We have to take a first day of school picture!” Begrudgingly, the girls posed in front of the bush. L held her pink bunny and a few toys from home to take for the car ride. Adorable smiles and a pose of the leg. Click!
We packed the car and headed out. L asked me to play music on the radio. With only commercials or annoying pop music to choose from, I pressed play on the cued up CD and held my breath. I didn’t know what I was going to hear. Fingers crossed. It was Depeche Mode. There was silence from the backseat. No protest. We drove out onto the street.
The first day. It was the first day of seeing a handful of school buses on the road. I said, “Look, a bus! It’s everyone’s first day too.” We pulled into the familiar lot of her former daycare. The one that was closed for so long. I heard her take a deep purposeful breath. Then another. She was calming herself. I thought, she is listening. She sees and hears everything. She’s been seeing and listening to me practice yoga and meditation, and demonstrating calming breaths and she internalized that. It became a useful tool in her toolbox to calm her anxiety. That is a win in my book and I don’t want to discount it. I was a proud mama.
We got out of the car. The daycare’s slide was wrapped in caution yellow tape. No trapezes swung on the bare playset. All the grownups were wearing a mask. We had to take a different entrance. No parents are allowed inside the building. L’s prekindergarten class will help form the foundation for her to be ready for a successful kindergarten next year. She held onto her pink bunny, now sealed in the school-required Ziplock bag. We held each other as she cried and didn’t want to let me go. I let out a tear too. The teacher said “Good morning!” And handed L a welcome goodie bag. She gave us a few moments to say goodbye and then led L into class. Luckily, I parked in front of her classroom window so we could wave and blow kisses.
It sure is a different time to be living in. Today I’m back to work. It’s the first Monday in a long time. My husband is at home managing his telework and setting up V for her day of google meets and independent work. We will make it through. We’ll run into each other’s arms at the end of the day, check in and share the events that unfolded. We got this. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter. A return to somewhat normalcy and we will always have each other.
We start out as children and young adults learning and following the footsteps of those that came before us. They made it possible for us to exist! Now it’s my turn to create my own imprint and footprints for the next generation to follow; to trust my inner wisdom; to acknowledge with gratitude all the facets of life. When I’m unsure or the path seems misguided and leading me off course, if I get still enough, the path gets illuminated before me and I can be the guidepost for those that will follow in my footsteps.
I spent the weekend on a mindfulness for mothers retreat at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT. I had so many amazing insights and breakthroughs, which can only happen when we slow down and retreat. I wrote a lot in my journal. I took full advantage of all the yoga and meditation workshops. I kept my iPhone in the drawer in my private room and I went within. The group was led by Hunter Clarke-Fields, the mindful mama mentor. You can listen to her podcast and take advantage of her free resources at: https://www.mindfulmamamentor.com/
We were a small group of nine mamas. I learned new tools and tips for my mindfulness journey. Mindfulness and meditation are not an attempt to strive, self-improve, or add to my day as another to-do. In this retreat I was reminded about my why. Why do I meditate and do yoga most days? It gives me freedom and a sense of relief, as simple and profound as that.
As the retreat was coming to a close, I still hadn’t visited the labyrinth. So it was my own personal closing ceremony to integrate the group sharing and insights. I was alone. It had snowed the day before and I had to follow the footprints that led to the labyrinth. The path in the labyrinth was gravel and not shoveled. I saw footprints in all directions within it. I was able to find the path and stay the course. At one point because of the snow, I was unsure how to get to the center. When I got still, I saw that no one had gone right and when I did, I was back on the path. My gatha or mantra came to me in the center of the labyrinth: “Peace with this, Peace within me.” I am ready to be the guidepost for those that will follow my footsteps.
I’ve been reading “Eat With Intention” by Cassandra Bodzak. I was feeling inspired one morning at breakfast. And I created this mindful eating mantra:
May I be nourished
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I feel satisfied
May I feel energized
May I feel complete
So simple. It grounded me to look at my oatmeal, to pause and take a few breaths, and not just devour the food but to savor a few moments.
And that’s all we really have right now: Just a few moments. To be here in the moment. To observe, pause, and try not to change it. To avoid the urge to pick up my iPhone. It’s so easy to distract myself.
If only we could savor those moments. Life is brief. I know my kids will be grown and out of the house in a blink of an eye. The baby/infant days are now toddler moments. And nursings have been replaced with morning cuddles. How I savor them. I try not to rush to the next thing to get ready for school and work. And at the end of the day, while my toddler reads her books, I enjoy playful imaginations with Legos, My Little Ponies, and the like with my 6 year old. I am grateful that she still wants to play with me.
I suppose my mantra for mindful eating can be transformed to all the moments:
May I be present
May I be loving
May I share joy
May I feel gratitude
May I feel loved
May I feel joy
I’m going to use this mantra of loving kindness this weekend. They always seem to fly by so quickly.
May we all savor the moments.