I am a single mother of two. In my life, it meant that I raised my children with little or none physical, emotional and financial support from my children’s father. This is the reality for many single parents. And it is no longer a derivative of social economics or education in our society.
Being a single mother also meant that I had a day job where I earned my living, an early morning, an late evening and a weekend job where I worked taking care of my children and my home and everything else in between.
If you don’t know my story, please listen to my audio class “Share Your Gifts: Nine Tools to improve the Overall Quality of Your Life.” For the sake of a short read, I will surmise my story this way: I came to New York at 20 years old with no resources. I worked any job available and went to school. I got married, had two children, got divorced when my children were five and two years old, earned an MBA, landed my dream job, made significant money, and later hated my dream job. I liked what I did, but I worked constantly and barely spent time with my children. I couldn’t wait for them to grow up and be out of my hair. Most of the time, I felt angry, resentful for the lack of personal time and then guilty for not enjoying them. The joyful winds of motherhood people talked about it may have entered my front door, but it was barely noticed.
How Mothers Cope
Many mothers feel the way I felt but don’t dare to say it out loud. To cope, mothers resort to rushing their children to grow up fast, take pills, use recreational drugs, or alcohol. My drug of choice was work. Work kept me busy enough, so I didn’t have to face the life I was creating. It was easier to work late and get a sitter.
I had migraines, cramps, and colds but kept going. I was constantly exhausted. I planned my days, so I didn’t waste time. I would foresee every possible scenario so I could get some control over my life. I was existing for the sake of having a heart and a lung. And this is just not good.
My children were the typical Brazilian American kids. They played with Polly Pockets they left scattered all over the house, left dishes everywhere, didn’t make their bed, waited for the last-minute to do things, etc. Also, they ate rice and beans more often than mac and cheese and asked for pão de queijo (cheese bread) instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Children are a lot of work. That’s was my mindset. My children required attention, love, follow-up and more follow-up to a schedule I believed would yield less stress for everyone. As my unhappiness deteriorated my health and my drive depleted my energy, I drove myself over the edge at anything that added to my agenda. It happened too often and my children were full of unplanned events.
I remember receiving a call from my daughter Erica when she was 12 years old to tell me that her nine-year-old sister Isabel dialed 911 instead of dialing my number 914 . I had programmed my telephone number on the house phone so they could reach me faster if needed. When Isabel noticed the mistake, she quickly hung up. The policeman went to my house, and he had to come inside to ensure the children were safe. He questioned my daughters about their age, and they both lied that Erica was 13 years old. In New York, it’s illegal to leave children 12-year-old and under alone. Erica is a December baby, and she entered kindergarten when she was four-years-old. That year she was on the eighth grade and we were not discovered. That evening I flipped out when considering the consequences of what could happen if the police found out their real age.
I flipped out at my children a lot. It was the dishes in the sink, the toys throughout the house, the clothes on the floor, an open jar of spaghetti sauce left in the pantry, the wet towel on the bed and anything that would imply more work for me. At that time, I didn’t know then, but I felt that my children didn’t appreciate what I was doing for them. Things were unstable for years until I finally understood the benefits of regular meditation practice and saw the results in my life.
My introduction to meditation happened when I was in my teen years. My half brother gave me a book on meditation. I read the book and practiced it in the darkness of my room before my siblings would come to bed. Six of us shared two tri-bunk beds in the one 10 by 12 square foot bedroom. Quietness was at a premium then. I did on and off for a few years and stopped meditating.
The Types of Meditators
I picked up meditation again when I got a book on Feng Shui. I became very interested in the art of improving the energy of the space and the people living in it.
Like the most beginners, I was a “crises-meditator.” That meant that I only meditated when things were pretty bad. Then I became a “frog-meditator.” I would meditate for two or three days, and then I didn’t for a week. The more I learned about meditation, the more I wanted to do it. Later I became a “preacher-meditator.” I preached meditation to everyone all the time. Meditation was the solution to everything. Then I discovered that If you are preaching, you are taking time away from doing.
As I studied feng shui and metaphysics, my teachers kept me asking me to start a consistent practice and not to worry so much about the “non-meditators,” the best method or the best time. In time I would find the path if it were meant to be.
The Power of Meditation
The actual benefits of meditation happened when I began to notice that the days I meditated, I would have easy flow days at work. Also, my girls would get along, and I didn’t have to mediate a disagreement when I got home. The dishes didn’t bother me that much and many times there were no dishes at all.
It was like meditation had the power to tame my children, my boss, my team and my clients to behave differently. The best of all was when I noticed that I no longer overreacted to the dishes in the sink or the piles of clothes on the floor. I became more patient with the people around and especially my children and began to focus on what mattered most. It was not that meditation was miraculously changing the people around me, it was changing my responses to the people in my experience.
Meditation also helped me to be a better listener. You know the long stories children tell without getting to the point? I could hear them without multitasking or tuning them out. Children need to talk, and I began to be open to listening.
Meditation also helped me to create a sacred space and time to recharge. When I began meditating, I used a guided meditation, and I would do it in the morning. Some days I had to do it in the evening because I had to leave the house at 7am, drop the children in school and drive seventy-five minutes to work. Those days, my life felt rushed. That’s when I began waking up thirty minutes early so I could get my meditation fix in the morning every day. It also meant that I didn’t have to rush my children out of the house in the morning.
I come to understand that my relationship with meditation is like of a first love. Once you find that bliss, you want it over and over again. Some days the bliss is not that high; then without warning, you discover a new level of happiness during meditation. Your body is buzzing, and you don’t want to come out of meditation because it feels too good.
Another way meditation helped to be a better mother was by improving my intuition. Everyone is intuitive, but not many people follow the guidance they receive. During meditation, I would receive insights on how to talk to my daughters, understand their bad days and mood swings and have the words to build their self-esteem instead of destroying. Often, thoughts would come throughout the day to remind, correct or instruct me on my children’s and my needs.
The consistent practice of Meditation helped me to embrace motherhood. The practice led me to be present in my life and remember that I chose to be a mother, and my children chose me to be their mother. They are still pushing my buttons, but that;s what teachers do. My children are my teachers. They taught me what I needed to learn about motherhood and they continue to do today.
Meditation broke the old parenting paradigm so I can experience the joys of motherhood I knew existed. It’s interesting that we need to go inwards to find the outwards answers. Meditation changed me so I could be the mother my children needed and the parent I wanted to be.
Give meditation a chance to change your life. It changed mine.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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